Consider this scenario. An enterprise wants to expand its business by adding five more international offices. Cloud computing makes it possible to add multiple users to its SaaS subscription in just a few minutes. But the company also needs to consider other aspects that are critical for the enterprise network – namely security, integrated service levels, optimized user experience, and consistent application access policies for remote and branch office workers.
As businesses’ reliance on cloud-based applications continues to grow, the traditional WAN (wide-area network) can’t cope. That’s because when companies move to the cloud without re-architecting the network it leads to inefficiencies, poor service and increased costs. For example, forcing data traffic back to the data center before breaking out to the cloud makes apps run slower and pushes up WAN costs. Meanwhile, security architectures designed for central breakout struggle to cope in the cloud world – operational support also gets more complicated when things aren’t under the organization’s control.
Add to this the complexities of Bring Your Own Device (BOYD), shadow IT, and users opening personal accounts on public SaaS services, and you have networks that are too slow, inflexible, expensive and simply not scalable enough. The result is established businesses are unable to innovate, scale up and offer new services at speed, putting them at a disadvantage compared to their younger cloud-native rivals.
This leads them to a hybrid SD-WAN enabled network, because it creates an agile, flexible platform for business growth while empowering seamless management of the network. Moreover, the new network will lead to significant cost savings because the IT team is able to manage traffic and even deploy applications globally in real-time. What would have previously taken a global business, with thousands of employees, days or weeks, can now be done in an hour.
A cross industry solution
The range of industries that could benefit from an SD-WAN network is huge. Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s look at a real-life example. European beverage distributor Carlsberg deployed a new hybrid SD-WAN network to support the innovative initiatives driving the digital transformation of its operations in 130 sites across Western Europe. As a result of its growing use of cloud-based applications, 70 percent of Carlsberg’s network traffic is now on the Internet. The new network, which replaced most of the legacy MPLS network, has given the brewer 10 times more bandwidth, reduced costs by 25 percent, and halved the occurrence of network incidents.
Meanwhile, Visteon, a leading automotive supplier of innovative cockpit electronics and autonomous driving enabling electronic products, is on a similar path. Their move to a cloud-first strategy was triggered by an existing inflexible infrastructure that was impeding innovation and the new pace of business growth. With a hybrid SD-WAN solution, Visteon has been able to quickly move into an agile mode to enhance customer experience, business flexibility, and expansion into different geographies including emerging markets like China, without compromising security.
Those are just two examples. In manufacturing, an SD-WAN network can protect factories and provide maximum availability through load sharing; secure and control partner access through the extranet; and address compartmentalized lines of business. In banking, more robust integrated security will allow faster threat detection, while ubiquitous encryption addresses differences between ATM machine communications and branch-to-branch VoIP or video. What’s more, the technology also has various potential applications in the wider financial and trading services world.
No silver bullet
Across these industries, SD-WAN can lower costs, and enable businesses to roll out applications and bandwidth rapidly across the network and branch locations. It also offers the flexibility to try out new configurations and services before introducing them on a larger scale.
To help meet these objectives, and ensure networks are implemented correctly, many companies are looking to trusted partners — including vendors like Cisco and managed service providers (MSPs) like Tata Communications — to manage it all for them. MSPs can eliminate any hassle and help to avoid extra costs by assisting with issues like how to manage broadband provisioning, how to ensure security at the network edge and what role on-premises hardware will take. They also allow businesses to allocate more resources to strategic initiatives.
In the end, it’s essential that businesses understand that SD-WAN is not just as simple as slapping on a quick fix on top of their existing not-fit-for-purpose networks. A future-proof infrastructure should anticipate and prepare for long-term business objectives, needs and limitations as well as predicted technology developments.
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