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Branch offices in 2020: New traffic patterns gain steam
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Not only are branch offices growing in number as enterprises ramp up decentralization, but so is the data being generated at the branch and where that traffic goes. With IaaS and SaaS transforming how apps are delivered to branch locations, these offices are increasingly connecting to both cloud providers and their corporate data centers (if not retiring their dependency on corporate data centers altogether).

Facilitating and monitoring the pathways from the branch to new cloud environments is only the beginning. The amount of bandwidth needed to support the growing web of branch locations in the enterprise has been growing an average of 20-30% annually, according to Cisco, thanks in no small part to the wider availability of more diverse SaaS solutions, not to mention their ease and speed of deployment.

Solutions like SD-WAN have been growing in popularity for a few years now to help teams tackle the changing traffic patterns across their networks. The reasons are clear, as SD-WAN allows for Hybrid WAN deployments that blend wired circuits like MPLS with bandwidth-rich direct-to-Internet connectivity. But there are a few considerations in the New Year where branch office connectivity is concerned that teams need to have on their radar as the network transformations started in 2019 really start to take flight in 2020.

The promise of 5G may actually deliver this year

Enterprises have already been exploring a mix of MPLS and direct-to-Internet connectivity to help facilitate traffic across the WAN with the help of SD-WAN solutions. But expect more businesses to add 4G LTE and 5G services into the equation, giving IT teams wireless links that can complement or replace existing wired connectivity.

While leveraging 4G LTE is already fairly common to help ensure high availability and reliability at branch offices today (especially are remote sites where traditional connectivity options are scarce), leading wireless operators are going to be joining an arms race for enterprise customers over the next year. That means wireless options may become more attractive at branch locations as providers make offers like unlimited data, for instance, which could deliver high bandwidth at fixed costs (only caveat being that devices will have to be equipped to support upgraded connections as well).

IoT enters another year of rapid growth

While IoT (Internet of Things) has been the “hot new thing” for what seems like the better part of the last decade, its adoption across the enterprise is still rising. The beacons and sensors that underpin a lot of this technology collect vast quantities of data, many times because these devices are almost “always on” by nature. While edge devices are generally deployed at branch locations to analyze some of the data from IoT sensors locally to reduce traffic over the WAN, the larger enterprise backbone will still require more capacity as adoption increases.

Improved WiFi standards as well as more diverse connectivity options – whether MPLS, direct-to-Internet or wireless protocols – will help carry this traffic to the cloud or enterprise data centers for further analysis, and SD-WAN will help blend all of this connectivity together. But at the end of the day, teams still need an additional layer of visibility to gain a true local perspective into how end users are experiencing the network and their apps.

This requires a solution that can see beyond the edge and into the LAN at each remote location, as well as deliver hop-by-hop visibility along the pathways apps travel between locations across the WAN. With so many stakeholders involved – not just end users and cloud providers, but ISPs and vendors too – comprehensive visibility is critical to tying it all together.

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These are just a few of the changes that have already been in motion but are set to take off in 2020 at branch offices across the enterprise landscape. To learn more about what’s driving enterprise teams to undergo such major tech initiatives, download our ebook.

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Filed Under: performance monitoring, industry insights

Tags: public cloud, hybrid cloud, cloud migration, cloud computing, cloud, IT, enterprise IT, enterprise network, enterprise WAN, SDWAN, SD WAN, MPLS, IaaS, SaaS, remote workforce, remote workers, remote work, work from home, remote location, remote office, branch office, Wifi6, Wifi, 5G, Internet of Things, IoT

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