As more and more services move to the cloud, it’s important to take account of the needs of branch offices and other remote sites. How will they access cloud-based services as well as applications, services and data hosted on premise at head office?
Existing WANs carry much of that traffic, but can they cope with the higher volumes of data and the requirements of services like VoIP and video collaboration that need high-quality connectivity?
The Internet provides useful connectivity for many cloud-based applications, but security concerns and QoS requirements may make it unsuitable for certain types of traffic or mission-critical applications.
Simplify Branch Communications
To deal with these challenges, an increasing number of organizations are turning to SD-WAN (software-defined WAN) as a solution that can simplify and improve branch communications. SD-WAN works with Internet services as well as other networks, so it can optimize branch connections to both cloud and on-premise services.
Improving branch access is an important strategic goal. Businesses that serve customers from many different locations must ensure consistent performance and standards of service across the organization. That means giving them every location equal access to all services.
Branches must also be able to collaborate easily, share information and provide real time business and operational data to head office. Video conferencing and other collaboration tools help branches hold regular business meetings and maintain efficient communications with head office and the supply chain.
Protect Network Investment
While existing branch WANs based on MPLS or Internet connections can support much of the traffic, the increasing number of simultaneous applications, real-time communication tools and higher volumes of data threaten to overwhelm existing resources. For most businesses, rip and replace is not an option.
Leasing additional MPLS circuits or building dedicated VPNs also proves expensive. Over-provisioning existing branch WAN connections to ensure network reliability and availability adds further costs.
SD-WANs promise to meet the changing demands and protect existing investment. Because they are vendor-neutral, SD-WANs can work with any existing network protocol. For example, SD-WANs can aggregate traffic from both MPLS and VPN circuits and use any available route, with no need to over-provision the network.
Improve Network Performance and Management
Combining existing WANs with Internet connections provides additional flexibility. By using SD-WAN’s intelligent path control, network administrators can automatically select the fastest route for different types of traffic and prioritize mission-critical data or applications such as voice that require QoS. Administrators then have a choice of routes to transport different types of traffic or balance traffic during periods of peak demand.
SD-WANs provide a single view of the network, making it easier to manage the entire branch network centrally. Administrators can increase bandwidth, change application prioritization rules and scale resources in line with changing requirements in different locations.
This level of flexibility and control makes it easier for network administrators to roll out services to new branches faster or reallocate resources if branches close. It also means businesses do not have to deploy technicians at local branches to handle manual configurations or other changes.
Faster deployment, greater visibility, investment protection, scalability and lower costs make SD-WAN an attractive proposition for any business running a branch network.