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Network Jan 25, 2021

Software-defined networking- everyone's doing it, but are you doing it well?

By Steve Coakley Networks Proposition Manager, BT Ireland

Software-defined networking is a critical building block for the digital workplace and to help people work from home.

Independent research found IT leaders focused on building a software-defined network infrastructure to support their home workers, with reliability and performance crucial1. Only 3% of IT leaders said they have no plans to implement the technology.

What has SD-WAN ever done for us?

The benefits of remote and flexible working have become crystal clear during the pandemic. At the same time, network infrastructures have begun to groan under the weight of new demands. Quang Phuong, Director of Network Engineering at HedgeServ, comments, “The global pandemic has woken everyone up to working from home. It’s put a lot of stress on the network infrastructure.”

Business leaders are still struggling to understand the value that SD-WAN technology can contribute. There are many benefits. SD-WAN technology is helping businesses flex their networking models and optimise costs. It makes it makes it easy to use MPLS and public Internet, offering more connectivity – and bandwidth cost – options. You can add in new business units more quickly. SD-WANs also support better application visibility and cloud-based software as a service. This makes it easier to roll out new software and support users with business applications.

With software-defined networking it’s easier to get to grips with a globally dispersed network. businesses can use a central dashboard to control and standardise their business applications. If users are having problems, a central view of network and application behaviour helps with troubleshooting. Changes and updates can be rolled out to everyone at once. A global view of what’s going on with the company’s digital infrastructure is also key to making sure it’s secure.

SD-WAN looks like a no-brainer. But not everyone agrees. There’s work to be done to communicate these benefits to the board. Right now, IT leaders are saying that getting the budget for the transformation to software-defined services is the top non-technical implementation challenge. In better news, the research also found that IT budgets are increasing as companies know they need to invest in change. Delivering some quick wins and a fast return on investment is important. One approach is to set up small cloud services pilots, to showcase the benefits of SD-WAN.

Take your partners

Commonly, businesses don’t have the skills in-house to do a major technology change. When it comes to global networking infrastructure transformations, technology suppliers have to step up and become partners with shared strategic goals. A partner should be able to plug capability gaps, whether technical or skills-based. They can help design a fast path to value. Security shouldn’t be a bolt-on in this type of projects. The right partner will help you bake security into the design.

In Gartner’s recent whitepaper ‘Use SD-WAN to Drive Increased Flexibility in Managed

WAN Services’, July 2020, they say: “SD-WAN has taken the networking industry by storm. Driven by expectations that SD-WAN will enable lower cost via the use of the public internet, and increased flexibility and agility, there is anticipated annual growth in SD-WAN deployments of around 18% annually through 2024.” 2

Most businesses source their networks as managed services, according to Gartner. It predicts that by 2024, 60% of the market will use managed SD-WAN services.

SD-WAN – a foundation for innovation

Standardised remote operations provide a solid foundation for businesses to react flexibly to future challenges. A centralised solution with good visibility of data and assets around the world provides a resource for innovation.

Lars Jerkland, Business Development Director at Akamai Technologies, explains: “There are so many things that are locked into the corporate network. Extending the corporate network with a software-defined network and SD-WAN that quickly provides access to the corporate hidden resources, the crown jewels, enables people to innovate.”

SD-WAN is the beating heart of new digital infrastructures that allow businesses to innovate and compete. This can only happen if your SD-WAN implementation is secure and flexible at the same time. Then, your home workers around the world will be able to work together effectively to innovate, compete and win.

If you’d like to find out more about how SD-WAN can support your global digital workplace, watch the playbacks for our event ‘Daring to Disrupt: how digital leaders are transforming network infrastructures’ here and claim your free eBook.

Or have one of our experts  call you