We answer some of the most frequently asked questions about SD-WAN
The buzz around SD-WAN has been around for a while. But with COVID-19 driving many UK businesses to evaluate and improve network agility, there are still understandably a lot of questions about the technology. Whether your company already uses SD-WAN or you are just starting your journey, here we answer some of the common questions that customers ask when they are considering SD-WAN to help inform your decisions when choosing the best-fit solution for you.
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With much of the UK’s workforce now working from home, businesses must ensure they provide a secure, efficient remote working environment. Unsurprisingly, many home Internet connections are struggling to cope with the increase in bandwidth demand as well as provide the same watertight levels of security that an office network offers.
Working as an extension of your company network, SD-WAN maintains network security while maximising the performance and availability of business-critical applications, with homeworkers connected to the wide area network (WAN) via a secure overlay. This means staff can always depend on the applications they need to do their jobs – regardless of where they are working from – and employers can enjoy peace of mind knowing productivity and security are fully optimised. Oh, and families enjoy minimal disruption to their home connection!
As well as providing a better overall experience, SD-WAN can help businesses operate safely as they start to reopen offices, shops and branches. Whether you have one site or one thousand, you can deploy and configure network and security settings for every site with minimal effort or time spent. Additionally, SD-WAN gives you visibility and control of your networks, devices, users and traffic, helping you respond to changing demands and plan your business’ evolution. With the help of SD-WAN, businesses can rest assured that they can deliver a safe and secure post-pandemic environment, and deal with unexpected events or situations in the future.
SD-WAN is a key tool in the networking industry’s arsenal because it builds on the premise of software-defined networking (SDN), which we’re seeing as prevalent in the industry today. SDN allows you to implement more intuitive-based policies and rules on the network, and when you extend this over the wide area network (WAN) it allows more meaningful access to cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. As businesses rely more on cloud-based data and applications, and support a larger distributed workforce, networks need to adapt to this new reality. SD-WAN makes the network more flexible than ever before, keeping pace with new customer requirements and changing business conditions.
As an overlay to an existing network, SD-WAN is easy to implement. By overlay, we mean we don’t necessarily have to change all of the circuits and Internet connectivity, rather start running proof of concepts, putting SD-WAN technology in certain points of the network, and building out a journey with the customer on how they want to adopt SD-WAN technology throughout their entire estate.
SD-WAN enables employee productivity by providing certain sets of features. For example quality of service (QoS) around certain applications such as voice, where voice traffic is prioritised over Internet traffic or email access. This means the QoS on a voice call is retained at all costs over other traffic on the network. Additionally, primary circuits and secondary circuits can be used to direct traffic in certain ways. For instance, accounting information can be routed back to head office using the primary MPLS link, while using standard Internet access via FTTC for email and non-business critical applications. With the introduction of LTE technology into the SD-WAN portfolio, you can rely on 4G or 5G connectivity to keep your sites up and running in the event of a primary circuit failover, all of which means your employees can carry on working while your circuits are being looked after.
An ever-growing skills shortage means businesses can’t always allocate engineers to go on training courses which in turn stops them from adopting new technologies. As an alternative, they can use service providers like Daisy to complement and extend their existing IT capabilities, helping them adopt modern technologies like SD-WAN while they concentrate on the day-to-day running of their business. A Managed SD-WAN service helps bridge the skills gap over both the short and the long term, providing project-based professional and engineering resources, as well as support services around change management, incident management, and break-fix maintenance.