Three Reasons Why a Software-Defined WAN Accelerates Business Agility
By definition, business agility means your business can rapidly respond to change in productive and cost effective ways. If there is anything that is constant in business—especially in the IT focused arena—it’s change, so having business agility is critical.
The most visible side of a business is the customer facing side. Today, that typically means the application or system that customers interact with, putting a spotlight on performance demands and end-user expectations. Those expectations are growing much faster than the networks that connect them, which is a glaring challenge to achieving business agility. Software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology meets this challenge and supports and accelerates business agility by enabling IT to be much more adaptable, flexible and efficient. SD-WAN solutions, such as Riverbed SteelConnect, is comprised of software that offers centralized control over the network. Along with this control is complete visibility into network resources and automation of many tasks, including maintenance, upgrades, configuration changes and more. SD-WAN technology also delivers ‘one touch’ provisioning, making the configuration and deployment of a remote business site extremely fast and simple.
Keep Pace or Perish. SD-WAN technology is adaptable to environment changes. Conditions are dynamic, meaning that bandwidth is always in demand, “scale” is a moving target, business objectives change, connections to data centers fail, and on and on. SD-WAN offers an intelligent management layer to the network that allows many tasks to be automated and administration to be far less labor intensive, removing the human-latency. Need to change the QoS policy to support a global townhall; or, are compliance requirements forcing a policy change? Provisioning of resources can be automated and configuration modifications centrally controlled, making your network far more adaptable to changing conditions and business objectives. SD-WAN finally removes the shackles of having to configure devices individually.
Flexibility is ‘not a nice to have.’ Cloud-based applications, and in turn cloud-destined workloads, are a critical differentiator for modern digital businesses. This is in large part due to cloud-based applications’ flexibility to scale up or down depending on requirements. But traditional and legacy networks have high management demands and are complex, forming a roadblock for cloud initiatives. Include the need for more network-oriented computing, and these legacy networks become an impediment to business success. SD-WAN technology removes both hurdles by greatly improving network dependability and quality. SD-WAN also simplifies administration and network complexity, making the success of cloud initiatives far more attainable because of their flexible nature in the face of continually changing technology demands. Take Riverbed SteelConnect for example, which provides instant connectivity to Microsoft Azure and AWS cloud environments. And Cloud-to-Cloud connectivity is as easy as turning on a virtual machine.
Efficiency means lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Application and network efficiency translate into lower costs and more savings for the business. To name a few, SD-WAN technology enables greater efficiencies through: managing bandwidth availability and usage, traffic routing and prioritization and ease of administration. Automation of normally personnel-driven activities to keep your network updated and maintained allows IT staff to both reduce and refocus their workloads. A more adaptable network is one that quickly reacts to, and can even anticipate, the ever-changing conditions and demands on applications while leveraging the benefits of dynamic, cloud-based resources. Gartner estimates that a SD-WAN can lower costs by 65% compared to a traditional WAN, which is compelling to say the least.
Thanks to the cost benefits realized by a more cloud-based IT infrastructure, much more attention is being focused on the networks that connect and support cloud initiatives. Therefore, business agility is now a question of network agility, which is what SD-WAN technology delivers. You can easily argue that the efficiencies realized by implementing a SD-WAN are through greater adaptability and flexibility of the network to handle the various demands on the business in today’s digital world. SD-WAN removes the rigid and inefficient nature of the traditional WAN and makes the network an asset, and driver, in the race toward greater business agility. For the first time, SD-WAN changes the rule of engineering from “Fast, Cheap, or Reliable—Pick any two but not three” to “Fast, Cheap, Reliable: Why wouldn’t you want all three?”
Originally posted on Forbes.com.