Putting business purpose at the heart of your network: SD-WAN in the enterprise
Ask any urban planner or urban development organization about reinvigorating a downtown area, and you’ll soon come up against the inherent problem that regeneration projects face: infrastructure.
Architects and city planners may dream up radical ideas as to the spaces in which people live, work and wind down, but they’re all dependent on roads, water supplies, electricity lines, internet connections, and so on.
Sooner or later, those foundational layers need addressing; repaving roads, digging new water mains, laying down new cables and infrastructure.
That analogy holds good, too, for modern, digitally-driven businesses. The network infrastructures that even the most technologically-fluent company own were probably planned and laid maybe a dozen or so years ago, and they are no longer providing the type of services that the business needs.
That divide between expectations and physical reality of interconnections across complex WANs is at least partially manageable by pro-active IT teams, armed with significantly-skilled professionals who are conversant with CLIs, bristling with networking certifications and capable of keeping the show on the road. But technology’s march, and the demands placed on the IT function to be more agile and business-responsive, mean that the cracks are beginning to show.
The more complex the network, the greater the challenges, and things certainly aren’t getting simpler. The possibilities offered by new tech like IoT and 5G combine with more services utilized in XaaS models, edge-based computing requirements, and the need for elasticity and agility in network provision.
To top it all, consumerization of technology means that every end-user now demands the level of service provision and immediacy that the global players can offer — the likes of Uber, Amazon, Rakuten, NTT, and Tencent.
IT functions might be able to continue to provide amid those challenges, but certainly not cost-effectively. Without stringing together multiple technologies like packet filters, traffic shapers, and QoS monitoring, the IT infrastructure no longer fits the business’s needs, in many cases.
Is SD-WAN the answer?
The abstraction of the network layers that underpin every company today may well provide some of the answers to the questions posed by business managers daily. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) help IT departments provide for today’s demands by using a network framework fit for tomorrow.
Rather than the manual configuration of individual devices, SD-WAN offers capabilities like zero-touch deployment in remote edge installations, and business-dictated traffic shaping and prioritization.
The change that SD-WAN technology can bring about is perhaps most noticeable in the alteration of IT’s stance with regards to its service provision. Rather than waiting to hear end-user complaints about slow online experiences (or worse) and rapidly re-allocating resources to address the issues, the modern SD-WAN approach is to set up rules and network models in advance.
With those in place, and a central monitoring console for real-time attenuation (if necessary), the needs of the organization take the lead— traffic is automatically prioritized according to service, traffic type (recreational or business) or other, non-technical driver.
Hybrid deployments, hybrid management
To IT engineers, the abstraction of services like storage or networking in the data center is familiar territory, and many will already be implementing convergent technology in some form or other. But the capabilities that SD-WAN possesses now mean that the same control and business-first mindset can be applied to complicated hybrid networks.
Most companies are using combinations of on-premise, public cloud services, and edge-based installs, with the actual mix changing often.
The latest in SD-WAN technology can also encompass cloud and edge in abstractions, too, making the provision of necessary services agnostic with regards to its siting. As companies switch from cloud provider A to provider B, or move services to new remote installations, shaping the network connections falls to the selfsame solution.
That’s the ideal setup for responsive and agile IT teams that know providing a business-centric approach is the way that they must respond. As circumstances change and the organization tries new directions or suddenly scales, the wide-area network’s maintenance and control needs the type of oversight and management that’s practically impossible to achieve manually.
Here at Tech Wire Asia, we’re looking at the next generation of SD-WAN providers, companies that can offer robust, secure, and all-encompassing solutions that will seamlessly underpin the digital business. And because every business is now — to a greater extent than not — a digital business, that means every company in the APAC.
Riverbed SteelConnect gives customers an intelligent platform to efficiently manage hybrid and Internet-only WANs with secure connectivity spanning branch sites, data centers, SaaS and the cloud.
Every day, more organisations move their networking focus from the data centre to the cloud. Some are even beginning to discover the benefits of accessing cloud-hosted applications from the very edges of their networks directly.
That transformation has one goal: to best prioritise and manage application performance and end-user experience to support your business objectives. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly critical to streamline and automate the provisioning and management of your WAN infrastructure, even while the network and IT landscape becomes more complex.
By putting your core business services at the forefront and quickly aligning your network to support them, you can directly and positively contribute to accelerating business velocity with a network that is as agile, fast and secure.
You can learn more about this type of network transformation, as well as the range of benefits the SteelConnect suite provides, by taking a look here in the pages of Tech Wire Asia.
With branch sites now undertaking a great deal of their own data processing (it can often be significantly cheaper than pushing and pulling data to remote or central sites), companies are using Meraki from Cisco’s SD-WAN as a way that they can maximize their investment in connective technology.
The technology can make multiple connections to a single point, and prioritize traffic flow and available bandwidth, varying all levels in real-time as demand peaks and troughs. That ensures the organization’s priorities are reflected in their networks rather than the infrastructure dictating what the company can or can’t do.
Companies can choose from simple preset rules capable of recognizing network traffic types on a per-application basis, or developing their own rule sets based on complex (or simple) logic structures. It’s a simple matter to set up user groups, cloud groups, connectivity plans, and create a massively optimized WAN.
Moving on from its gold-plated legacy in networking hardware, the San Francisco giant is moving gradually towards a more service-oriented, software-defined set of offerings, and there’s no better example of the potential than in the company’s SD-WAN. You can learn more about Meraki, Cisco, and the company’s SD-WAN solutions here.
Synonymous with virtualization in the server space, VMware is as much as a given in every data cluster in the world as TCP/IP networks. Its impact across the globe is therefore not equaled by any of its competitors, and many companies with significant investment into the VMware stack will be keen to expand their WAN network capabilities using the same provider.
The company’s absorption of VeloCloud was a logical step for the giant that is VMware, as its technological offerings based on powerful abstraction layers now extend to cover companies that are using different connectivity methods, from SDSL to MPLS, satellite ADSL and 5G.
On-premise data centers, edge installations, public clouds running SaaS, DBaaS, and so on, all need to interconnect seamlessly irrespective of location, and the traditional data center is losing its role as a central point that can be minutely controlled. Instead, the VeloCloud platform offers that type and granularity of control onto every part of the enterprise WAN.
VeloCloud lets companies stop worrying about deploying network infrastructures by hand— that’s not scalable, nor quick and therefore not cheap. The faster manual changes are enacted on any connecting node, according to, for instance, security concerns due to human error or oversight.
The software-defined wide-area networking platform from VMware means that IT staff don’t necessarily need to be conversant in five or six command-line environments to cover all bases. Instead, the abstraction layer, in concert with VMware NSX hardware, makes networks configurable on-the-fly, or according to automatable rules. Get the story from VMware itself.
*Some of the companies featured on this article are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia