How to Utilize SD-WAN for Digital Transformation

SD-WAN is a critical piece of the Digital Transformation puzzle. According to the authors of the book ‘Cloud-First WAN for Dummies,’ IT leaders get the importance of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud for digital transformation. However, they tend to overlook the importance of foundational areas like the enterprise Wide-Area Network (WAN). They also mention that a well-designed WAN can support digital transformation initiatives, but a poorly designed one can derail the whole process.  

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SD-WAN Features That Aid Digital Transformation 

This book on cloud for dummies advocates a cloud-first fully managed SD-WAN as a service as the perfect solution for organizations embarking on their digital transformation journey. Network transformation goes hand-in-hand with Digital Transformation, and every sector has its own nuanced approach to digital transformation. But there are a few underlying similarities like security, application performance, and deployment speed. Managing and routing traffic from IoT devices and machine-to-machine traffic is also a key area.

Cloud Application Performance

Cloud applications like Office 365, Salesforce, and numerous others have become very common in the workplace. Organizations are also migrating applications from the data center to the IaaS platforms like Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon’s AWS, or the Alibaba Cloud. This increased cloud usage has a direct effect on WAN traffic.

A cloud-first fully managed SD-WAN as-a-service comes with direct connectivity to AWS, Azure, and Alibaba’s IaaS platforms. This connectivity enables customers to have a fast route to the widely used IaaS providers. The cloud-first WAN provides a ‘Virtual Office‘ solution for users of SaaS applications like Office365 and Salesforce. 

With a Virtual Office, application traffic is transported over a private core to the PoP closest to the SaaS provider. Also, features like built-in WAN optimization and data deduplication ensure that users experience excellent application performance.

Speed of Rollout

A cloud-first WAN can deliver connectivity in a few days rather than in months as a fully managed on-demand SD-WAN. The pace of deployment is a critical requirement for retail, banking, and healthcare sectors. In these sectors, it is common to have branches in remote locations. 

Also, cloud-first WANs guarantee end-to-end performance with Day 1 SLAs. As the number of branches increases, this also creates a bigger security loophole that needs to be fixed. Addressing this challenge by installing security hardware in every branch is costly. A cloud-first solution comes with built-in security features, extending from the physical to the datalink, network, and application layers.

IoT and M2M Traffic

Sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and logistics are significant users of IoT devices. Traffic from sensors and other devices is bursty, often mission-critical, and very sensitive to latency. A cloud-first SD-WAN can identify varying traffic types, segment them, and apply policies that reflect business priorities.

Operational Excellence

The humble WAN is becoming more complex. As the operational complexity increases, so does the need for more specialized engineering resources. Other associated areas, like commercial contracts and billing, also become complex. This increased operational complexity makes IT departments less agile.

With a fully managed on-demand SD-WAN as-a-service, customers have a single point of contact for all issues related to the WAN. The solution includes the first and last-mile management along with link procurement services. For performance monitoring, Aryaka provides a cloud portal that provides first-mile, last-mile, and middle-mile status.   

Conclusion

Digital Transformation requires a robust enterprise WAN to deliver on the promised benefits. But not all WAN or SD-WAN solutions are the same. A Do-It-Yourself approach that relies on multiple OEMs tends to push up cost and complexity. Other the other hand, a WAN solution provided by a carrier has challenges like the inability to assure end-to-end service levels, Day-1 SLAs, and lack of choice in the first and last-mile connectivity. The Cloud-First fully managed SD-WAN is perhaps the only approach that aligns itself with the consume rather than construct paradigm, an essential construct of Cloud and Digital transformation.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.