Remember how digital transformation was supposed to be a journey? Then COVID came along and, suddenly, the journey became a race against time as network teams scrambled to transform their once-centralized network into a vastly decentralized one featuring different technologies, different cloud partners, and probably more than one type of duct tape. When a respected analyst like McKinsey & Co. refers to the ensuing acceleration as digital whiplash, it’s not entirely for dramatic effect; network operations teams are still recovering from the shock of squeezing 10 years of evolution into the last two years.
While workers have adapted to the new realities of cloud-based applications, working on smartphones, and working from home, network teams have had a harder time adapting. Budgets are stretched thin, human resources are stretched even thinner, and a new wave of cyberattacks is being aimed at the network’s weakest points. But what seems like a perfect storm for network failure is actually a perfect illustration of why corporations should be moving to a software-defined network model.
What keeps IT up at night
An SD-WAN is designed to solve many of the problems that network management teams face today, from security to scalability to hybrid interoperability. Think of the things that keep NetOps up at night: cloud sprawl, network vulnerabilities, rising costs, inconsistent network performance. Now, think about how having an SD-WAN turns those problems into solutions.
Problem: “I feel like I’m managing 10 networks instead of one.”
SD-WAN solution: A single, software-defined network management layer creates a holistic view across all network topologies. As a result, NetOps can configure, manage, and report on all network resources through a centralized point of command, from the core data center out to the network edge and even into the cloud.
Problem: “I’m tired of always asking Finance for more money.”
SD-WAN solution: When workers left the office, they needed to take the network with them. That meant more connections, more hardware, more circuits, and more money. Even the cloud has become a cost factor, requiring additional technology to secure those cloud connections. An SD-WAN solution enables NetOps to expand network services more cost efficiently by using Internet-based broadband to securely connect remote locations rather than expensive MPLS circuits.
Problem: “The network is changing faster than I can keep up.”
SD-WAN solution: NetOps teams today are tasked with managing a network they didn’t create. Whether it’s a cloud application purchased by Marketing or a smartphone purchased by an individual user, managing multiple endpoints and consistently enforcing secure policies across such a diverse and changing network can feel impossible. An SD-WAN simplifies that process by connecting everything through a unified management layer that’s easy to control and scale.
Problem: “The less control I have over the network equipment, the less control I have over network performance.”
SD-WAN solution: Network traffic was growing even before the pandemic. Fast-forward to today, and two-third of business network traffic is video, bringing greater demand for network performance and security. Managing network resources when they were in the data center was hard enough, but trying to optimize “outside” resources is exponentially harder in a traditional network architecture. Here again, an SD-WAN solution provides simple, centralized control over video, voice, and data traffic anywhere in the logical network, allowing NetOps to improve and adjust network performance based on real-time conditions.
An SD-WAN won’t solve all your problems. It won’t make your commute to work shorter or improve the taste of the cafeteria coffee. But it can make you enjoy your job more, whether that job involves using the network to connect to video meetings or access files, and especially if your job is to make sure those network activities run smoothly. The only problem remaining, then, is which SD-WAN solution to choose? We have an answer for that too: ExtremeCloud SD-WAN.