The Road to Better Performance Is Paved With Networking Technology by Christine Cignoli September 8, 2017
We always like to hear the stories of those IT early adopters for a new technology. In this story, it’s several heads of IT who’ve adopted SD-WAN. For both, their companies needed a better way to provision and manage branch office infrastructure. For one, the Bay Club Company, using SD-WAN is actually helping IT drive revenue. Provisioning new locations is now so much faster, since IT doesn’t have to set up expensive MPLS circuits. At Autodesk, they are improving the speed and performance of their apps now that they’ve adopted SD-WAN and shifted branch sites to a mesh network setup, rather than the previous hub-and-spoke model. Their IT team is also looking forward to faster provisioning and reduced use of MPLS.
For more on upgrading networks, this piece discusses SD-WAN and 4G LTE as the technologies most essential to support cloud. They break down the reasons that SD-WAN and 4G LTE are necessary for cloud applications to succeed. One is that the WAN needs to be more flexible and able to expand as needed—so SD-WAN can do that to help businesses use MPLS only where needed. The edge computing trend also plays a part here, as SD-WAN allows branches to connect directly to the internet (though these capabilities are still being perfected). Continuous internet access is also essential for cloud applications and infrastructure to work, so 4G LTE as a network backup at branch sites may be a useful solution. In general, technologies that encourage edge computing will likely continue to evolve.
SD-WAN does bring a lot of benefits, though it’s still up in the air whether ditching MPLS entirely will be one of them. This piece points out that MPLS is still necessary for apps that just don’t transition well for the internet. There are also helpful tips about the security of the WAN, with a reminder that organizations need to figure out how to prevent the WAN from passing malware around within the company (which is what caused Target’s data breach a few years back). SD-WAN solutions don’t all address this issue yet. One other point notes that SD-WAN tools can also solve the “configuration drift” issue that can occur over time among branch offices.
For many companies, their number of remote and branch offices is growing, with user needs growing as well. Remote users obviously want high-performing apps, especially when so many now rely on streaming video and voice tools to communicate with colleagues and customers. IT is trying to keep up, and as this story points out, they’re doing so with an “accidental-architected” network. That describes perfectly the mix of legacy equipment, SaaS applications and cloud that IT is dealing with today. The unpredictability of performance and costs for branch office networks isn’t a long-term solution. SD-WAN can help IT a lot for branch offices, though it’s not a cure-all.
Of course, SD-WAN doesn’t provide the application context for performance data—that’s where we come in. We’re looking forward to better network performance for every employee, no matter where they’re located.