Our CTO roundtable: SD-WAN tales from the front-line

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Last month, a select group of technology leaders from the financial services, manufacturing and nutrition sectors gathered in the RDS, Dublin to talk about SD-WAN. They wanted to understand how easy SD-WAN is to implement. Our keynote speaker, Paul Graham, CTO of Converged Connectivity at BT, proved that aligning your business priorities to SD-WAN implementation is crucial for the success of your unique business initiatives. Paul highlighted a sample of the problems we’ve helped our customers solve recently: mergers and acquisitions, more effectively using available bandwidth, and new sites taking too long to turn-up.

The group learned that some challenges were common across industries which gave us a great opportunity to share experiences. You may recognise your own situation in one of our 12 future trends.

We also had a sample of what’s on offer at our customer experience centre (CEC) in London (and at other select showcase sites around the world). There was lots of interest in the room around the Cloud, Network, Security and Unified Communications services that we demonstrated.

To finish the event we talked about the common challenges of future network transformation that BT (as a solution partner to some of the world’s leading multinationals) have helped our customers with. Here’s some more detail on those challenges:

1.     How can you directly link business outcomes to the ‘what’ and when’ of technology decisions?

Don’t forget your unique requirements

There was a good reason for this being our first point: it is fundamental to success. Your future network must meet the unique requirements of your business. The success of your business depends on a network that now must be agile, just like your business. You need to continually develop it and drive down costs without sacrificing performance. In fact managed application performance, particularly into the cloud, is where legacy solutions fall short. There are many new technology options and it’s difficult to select the right ones.

When you implement new solutions is just as important as what technology you select. Get it wrong and you risk spending money on a network that becomes rapidly obsolete.

What if your solution partner brought the skills and insights that helped you to make the right choices? Then you’d be able to select a path to meet and exceed the needs of your market. You need technical expertise combined with knowledge of your network and your market. And you need that brought to bear at the right time to ensure the success of your transformational programmes.

2.     How can you manage complexity and transform your global infrastructure while staying secure?

You must minimise disruption

This is only point number 2 because we can’t have two points ‘number 1’ in our list. When it is your job to transform a network consisting of 10s, 100s even 1,000s of sites across multiple geographies you’ll quickly realise that securing cross-functional support for your change programme early saves significant future pain. Changes to the network also impact IT, security and cloud initiatives. As a programme for change an SD-WAN powered future network is truly transformational and needs all of your IT stakeholders invested in it.

As a technology SD-WAN demands transformation discussions, across your organisation, far sooner than ever before.

It is disruptive to change your network, particularly at scale. Even minor network modifications can’t be done in isolation—security, IT efforts, and your cloud infrastructure are all impacted. So you need to consider all four facets. There’s the question of whether your teams have all the skills to implement your plans and if you’re using the best designs? Will you need to integrate products from multiple suppliers? What about the limited view of your network and difficulty resolving problems that come with a multi-vendor approach? Finally, will you have the resources to implement your plans on a global basis?

What if your partner had a centre of excellence, who used modular and templated designs? This would help you improve your network faster, with less risk and headaches along the way. You need experienced professionals with tested implementation plans to reduce surprises.

3.     How can you iterate and evolve your platforms to stay agile and deal with increasing cyber threats.

You must mitigate risk

Again, this could have been point number 1. SD-WAN makes you re-open your security policies for a thorough examination. As business agility has become the norm across all industries, you’re continually making changes to transform and advance your network. For every modification, however, you worry about unknown implications to the rest of your infrastructure. There’s a perpetual risk of change. You don’t want to create new security vulnerabilities or problems for your IT and cloud initiatives. And each update must incorporate your policies and network management processes across the globe. Otherwise, you lose sight of your infrastructure.

What if you could coordinate services across your network and the cloud to make sure all your network elements can talk to each other while gathering the data to understand what’s going on in your network? You’ll want a partner to help you create a roadmap to managed SD-WAN services that are directly linked to the success of your business initiatives.

The time is right to tackle the challenges head-on

Now is the time for global enterprises to decide on the direction of their future network. Have one of our experts call you or contact me directly.

You can see more use-cases, including managing large branch networks and securely managing critical sites described here: use-cases.

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Steve Coakley

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