How to make your network smarter

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Global organisations could be losing around 2.6 per cent of their annual revenues because of slow running applications and downtime.

Even if your network connectivity is reliable, your applications may not be delivering the user experience your employees and customers need.

But it’s difficult to get sufficient visibility of your key applications to be able to identify issues, and as you take on board more cloud services or digitise your operations, you may end up with blind-spots and inefficiencies.  With a tenfold increase in traffic on the network and a lack of contention between critical and non-critical applications, we see organisations trying to flex their network through adding bandwidth, forward error connection and prioritisation. But none of these truly address the underlying causes.

Traditional SD-WANs run policies across the WAN that dictate how applications are routed. This routed environment works well for many industries and prioritises application types. However, a smart network service will guarantee bandwidth for key applications, for example, enabling a retailer to offer stable transactions with consistent and predictable performance, regardless of the underlying network conditions mitigating factors like latency, jitter, and congestion.

Smarter networks

A smart network has application intelligence that allows it to act automatically and dynamically to changing traffic loads and network conditions. It changes the environment so that your customers and users always experience optimal performance.  You build your network around your expected user experience and control it. End to end quality of service, independent of your underlining network, delivers the best experience to every location, every time.

Our approach is to initially assess visibility to give you an insight into your existing application estate, then layer that with gradual application control based on business outcomes and experiences for users and customers. Dynamic WAN selection can then provide path selection for optimal infrastructure cost, user experience and resilience, creating a super highway of application-based routing can be directed, controlled and managed from a single orchestration platform.

How visibility can improve business performance

For example, a European bank needed to deploy Skype for Business to 10,000 users. After 90 days they reached 1,000 users, but the help desk was overwhelmed with calls about dropped calls and poor audio and video quality. They then implemented application visibility allowing them to deploy the remainder of the 10,000 users in the next 90 days with no additional load on the help desk – no dropped calls, no performance issues, just happy users. Now they have measured more Skype calls than they ever had with traditional phone systems, support hundreds of thousands of conference calls per week and are saving over 10% on their travel costs.

We also recently worked with a large fast food chain. All of their 1,400 restaurants in the UK use kiosks in the restaurant to increase the number of customers they serve and reduce the time spent waiting to order their food. At first, many franchisees found that the payment processing system for the kiosks, which is cloud-based, was too slow, resulting in customers walking out without ordering at peak lunch times. Once we deployed our system to protect the user experience of the kiosk application and the payment processing, transaction error rates dropped by over 70 per cent and franchisees reported queue times dramatically dropped, resulting in thousands of pounds of additional sales per week per restaurant. The ROI across the entire network could be achieved in just a few months.

By providing application visibility we can troubleshoot and manage estates, optimise applications and deliver path selection, prioritisation and compression. This means we can manage business outcomes – not just network failures.

Find out more and contact a BT expert for a free visibility assessment to help you understand and evolve your network.

Andrew Brooks

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