IT Forecast Calls for Digital Disruption

Driving Transformation with Software-Defined Networking

IT personnel and network engineers have a palpable feeling of uncertainty as a new set of challenges confront them. Digital transformation is turning business models on their heads. While enterprises take measures to bolster IT departments and gear up to adapt to the latest technologies, they face fundamental resistance from within.  Hardware-centric enterprise networks are based on static deployments, which makes configuration changes too slow and too costly.  These legacy networks were never designed to evolve at the pace which business requirements are changing today.

Security, staffing and skills training continuously weigh on IT budgets for all organizations, big and small. Now overlapping layers of emerging technologies such as the cloud and IoT have further added to the woes. It’s clear that enterprise networks have evolved beyond the basic mandate of connecting the head office to branches networks and data centers. CIOs and IT leaders are seeking innovative solutions that will consolidate and resolve some of the biggest IT challenges without increasing their budgets. Enterprises must align technology innovation with cloud performance and network security to preserve customer trust and brand reputation while building shareholder equity through this era of digital disruption.

The quest for foundational innovation is leading CIOs on a Journey to an SD-WAN (free white paper series!) where software-defined networking provides agility, security and cloud integration that propels the entire business ecosystem to a higher level of efficiency and performance. SD-WAN builds dynamic, scalable networks that simplify branch complexity while accelerating cloud applications.  This creates a strategic advantage that boosts worker productivity and empowers enterprise innovation, all without increasing IT spend.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top issues faced by enterprises and how SD-WAN is helping IT leaders to address them:

Migrating to Public and Private Clouds

Cloud networking continues to fundamentally transform the enterprise. According to a recent article based on a Forrester Research survey of enterprise decision makers, all enterprises report they are implementing some form of cloud technology this year. While the survey indicates that 38% report they are focused on private clouds, and 32% are focused on public clouds, the majority of respondents (59%) say they’re adopting the hybrid cloud model. Conceptually, hybrid clouds combine the security and control of private clouds with the cost efficiency and scalability of public clouds.

The good news is that your users are evolving with new tools that make your organization more competitive and productive. The challenge is that IT departments are dealing with tremendous amounts of data as a seemingly endless supply of new devices and cloud-based applications continuously appear on the network. Hardware-based enterprise networks are not well suited for connecting users to the public cloud, and moving workloads into private clouds requires careful planning and skilled IT time. To make matters worse, those costly MPLS circuits seem to create a giant sucking sound on your IT budget every time someone even mentions the cloud.  In order to deliver optimal cloud user Quality of Experience (QoE), CIO’s need a solution that cost-effectively scales cloud access while providing granular control of bandwidth resources and application policies.

Where hardware-based networks struggle to adapt, cloud-delivered SD-WAN architectures handle network changes and application performance issues with ease and control. SD-WAN brings your network to the cloud, empowering the enterprise with the agility to dynamically migrate applications and workloads to whichever cloud computing model is the best fit.

Cloud Security and Performance

VINO SD-WAN provides a virtual overlay for the enterprise network, where centralized orchestration is based on business policy intent.  This gives IT leaders the flexibility to implement changes across the entire ecosystem without those costly delays they would face with a traditional hardware approach.  SD-WAN also leverages multiple low-cost broadband connections in ways that drastically boost the speeds, reliability and performance of cloud applications.

As new applications join the network ecosystem, VINO SD-WAN identifies them on-the-fly and automatically applies user-defined policy templates.  Traffic shaping and security rules are instantly enforced throughout your ecosystem to ensure that users get an optimized cloud experience.  Branch network resources can even be orchestrated by VINO SD-WAN to ensure all users and applications get their fair share of bandwidth according to your business intent.

VINO SD-WAN consolidates security policies into a single pane of glass.  All SD-WAN end points are authenticated and SD-WAN traffic is automatically encrypted from end-to-end.  Branch office networks can be securely segmented into VLANs that isolate traffic as required for regulatory compliance. VINO offers branch firewalls which are managed as Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), creating a Software-Defined Perimeter where security policies are centrally updated and dynamically distributed across your entire estate in just a few clicks.

Whether your applications are hosted in public or private clouds, VINO SD-WAN helps you deliver more bandwidth with lower TCO and embedded tools to boost quality, policy control and security.

Branch Network Efficiency

Traditional MPLS networks are carrier-dependent, which usually leads to long wait times as circuits are provisioned. Once your MPLS circuits are finally deployed, several hours of skilled IT time is usually required to configure the routers, firewalls and any WAN optimization appliances. The result is that new sites are costly to set up and deployment cycles take weeks or even months.

SD-WAN can reduce deployment times to about one week or even less.  The flexibility to use any broadband access connections means you’re no longer held hostage to carrier MPLS deployments timetables.  Most sites can get local broadband circuits turned up within a week, and the SD-WAN CPE device can be shipped overnight.  From there, the SD-WAN provisioning is a matter of minutes with centralized and automated installation that requires minimal skilled IT time on-site.

Cloud orchestration also enhances branch network visibility and control.  SD-WAN brings consistency to monitoring and management across all your sites regardless of the local carrier or access connection type.  SD-WAN orchestration provides analytics and visualizations that show real-time network and application performance.  As discussed in a related blog, Cisco ISR customers have big TCO savings potential in the 80% to 90% range with SD-WAN, which is partly due to the operational efficiency gains.  While all SD-WAN solutions can help accelerate site deployments and network management efficiency, the best way to free up skilled IT resources is through Network-as-a-Service solutions like VINO SD-WAN which include professional design and ongoing 24/7/365 support.

Secure Access for Mobile Workers and IoT

Smartphones and tablets are blurring the line between work and play, and new workforce collaboration tools are enabling higher productivity from remote and mobile workers. While legacy networks can provide secure access for these workers, the manual VPN configurations tend to drain IT resources. Beyond the basic challenge of keeping up with the rapid turnover rate of employee devices, the VPN tunnels are back-hauled which creates bandwidth wastage while crushing productivity and performance.

Meanwhile, analyst are projecting several billion internet connected “things” will be deployed within the next few years, which means IT teams need a network strategy that provides secure connections and bandwidth capacity at IoT scale. Talk of IoT may sound futuristic, but enterprise networks are already struggling to connect all the things that are here today. The first generation of things were computers, printers, VoIP phones and IP cameras. More recently, a new generation of WiFi enabled things have appeared in the form of various BYOD smartphones and wearable electronics than any employee, consultant or customer brings within range of your network SSID.

As these workforce mobility and IoT trends continue to accelerate, IT teams will need the agility and security of SD-WAN to meet the connectivity challenge. Through a secure cloud-overlay network architecture, VINO SD-WAN provides more direct access for remote workers and mobile IoT devices. For on-prem IoT deployments where many things connect to a local IoT gateway hub, SD-WAN provides high scalable bandwidth to backhaul traffic to the cloud.

Next Steps

Digital transformation is driving changes in applications and user behavior, which is in turn placing strain on IT leaders to quickly adapt the enterprise network to meet rapidly shifting requirements. This cycle is accelerating and legacy networks do not provide the scalability or agility necessary to meet the challenges and keep your workforce competitive.

Whichever way your cloud, workforce and IoT requirements evolve, the bandwidth requirements and the number of connected endpoints will continue to increase. It’s time to create a game plan for SD-WAN. Ideal solutions will support mobile workers and IoT devices while optimizing application quality-of-experience for both public and private clouds.  While SD-WAN orchestration enhances operational efficiency, consider Network-as-a-Service solutions to free up skilled IT resources to pursue your strategic digital transformation initiatives.