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SD-WAN: Rethinking enterprise networks for Canada’s distributed, mobile workforce

Today’s Canadian enterprise workers are more distributed, more mobile than ever. With SaaS-powered options at their fingertips, employees at remote sites and branch offices from St. John’s to Vancouver Island, and corporate locations across the globe have access to the best technology to do their jobs, at any place, anytime. Then, there is the proliferation of devices, for both personal and professional use, that hit the enterprise network every day. Bold changes in the ways people work and interact with their corporate environment demand bold thinking by IT professionals about their network technology. A better approach is necessary to provide access and bandwidth across an organization and handle all of the cloud-based applications people pull down every day to be effective. That’s where SD-WAN technology excels.

The movement from conventional WAN to SD-WAN technology

The exponential rise in cloud-based application use during the past few years has impacted the performance of the conventional enterprise WAN. With the bandwidth requirements of today’s cloud-based apps such as Microsoft Office 365, HubSpot, and Salesforce, along with a significant portion of the compute and storage functionality moving to the cloud, conventional WAN often struggles to keep up. MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) connected WANs can deliver excellent performance for a specific application, but they’re not ideal for handling multiple cloud-hosted apps at once. Moreover, MPLS is more expensive than the public Internet, and MPLS connectivity is prone to frequent interruptions, leading to poor VoIP call quality or latency in video conferencing.

What that means for a distributed workforce is with a conventional enterprise WAN still in place, their network experience has degraded significantly over time.

SD-WAN gives enterprises a competitive advantage

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide-area network, is used to connect remote locations to the main office network via the public Internet. Since SD-WAN is a software-focused approach, it doesn’t require proprietary hardware to be installed and maintained at each location, like traditional WAN technology. With SD-WAN, network control moves to the cloud, giving IT staff the ability to configure, update, and manage the entire network from a centralized dashboard. Moreover, abstracting the network on the low-cost public Internet means users have access instantly to all of their cloud-hosted applications.

Let’s take a quick look at the advantages of SD-WAN for enterprises:

Superior cloud-based application experience

Today’s distributed employees connect to their corporate networks on a variety of devices from laptops to mobiles phones to tablets, among others. From those company and personal assets, they pull down the SaaS products they use every day for communication, scheduling, collaboration, navigation, and other functions, along with standard corporate cloud software for time tracking, CRM, and office productivity.

As Internet bandwidth has increased and costs have come down, SD-WAN technology offers a clear advantage over dedicated MPLS. With today’s enterprise SD-WAN software and systems in place, Internet traffic is analyzed and rebalanced in real time, while granting users instant access to the vast array of available cloud applications. The technology also addresses packet loss, traditionally degrading the performance of the public Internet, through actions like Forward Error Correction (FEC), ensuring throughput remains constant or increasing. SD-WAN delivers the high-speed performance and low latency users expect while running all of their cloud-based applications, across the organization.

Simplified management

SD-WAN technology uses a networking appliance that scales precisely to the needs of the enterprise. The centralized interface gives IT personnel the ability to configure, manage, and monitor the corporate network from an easy-to-use dashboard. As a cloud-based system, SD-WAN provides significant saving by reducing the need for technicians to travel for site visits for maintenance. And because of the low cost of bandwidth from public Internet services, distributed users can save time in their cloud-based apps and maximize productivity.

Strengthened security

In a traditional enterprise environment, IT staff deploy dedicated security devices with firewall and intrusion prevention systems based on policies for groups or departments at different locations. With SD-WAN architecture, security functions are built-in allowing for protection of traffic and data across the entire network. By managing security via the cloud instead of on-premise, IT personnel have the flexibility and control to protect even the most sensitive business environments while reducing latency and costs. Users know only that their data is protected, without compromising the speed of their cloud-based apps for strengthened security.

SD-WAN as a managed service: benefits for the enterprise

Enterprise organizations have a finite number of IT people they can dedicate to managing their network, especially at a regional, national, or global level. Even with the simplicity and all the cost benefits of SD-WAN, companies often partner with a managed SD-WAN provider that specializes in the design, implementation, management, and monitoring of remote-office networking. Corporate IT staff can then stay focused on supporting the business initiatives that are most important to the enterprise.

OnX helps companies move beyond MPLS-connected enterprise WAN to reap the benefits of a fully managed SD-WAN environment. We have decades of experience configuring networks and designing systems around the unique needs of diverse organizations. We match SD-WAN performance to your precise business needs, ensuring your remote users have continuous, speedy access to the cloud apps they need to be successful.

To learn more about how we can optimize and simplify your enterprise network, visit our site at https://www.onx.com/communications/sd-wan.

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