Jim Steinlage, President & CEO of Choice Solutions,
COVID-19 has definitely pressurized the system when it comes to IT and telecom infrastructures. It wasn’t long after state and local governments started enforcing physical distancing and shelter-in-place mandates in March of this year that networks began feeling the strain, especially those who played the game of over subscribing bandwidth.
COVID-19 could not have been a better prescription for selling SD-WAN use cases. Its remedy is just what the doctor ordered as millions of American workers transitioned to working from home. Tech teams worked around-the-clock to ensure they have the tools, training, and resources needed to perform essential tasks remotely.
There’s no need to worry about a collapse of the demand for internet, but individual enterprise networks are taking a beating. Network activity is exceeding the levels for which they were designed. One bright spot found in this situation is the boon for companies expanding SD-WAN remote access.
SD-WAN Driving Business Continuity
Regardless of industry or agencies, organizations of all sizes are now looking to the cloud for enterprise applications. Without cloud-based apps, traditional remote workers would be connecting to enterprise data centers that cannot meet the demand. Think about all the webinars, videoconferencing, UCAS solutions and activity that is now happening as a result of COVID-19.
Even before the pandemic, the global-managed SD-WAN market was experiencing year-over-year growth of more than 50%. It’s already been used by many at branch offices to deliver UC, videoconferencing, and other real-time application traffic to avoid the cost and delay that comes from routing it through an MPLS or other expensive private networks.
As we now think of every employee’s home as a remote branch, SD-WAN has the opportunity to make a very cost effective performance and efficiency impact as well as providing the resources to scale for growth. Another big bonus with these new branches is the ability to maintain business continuity by:
- Ensuring organization’s data is secure by encrypting traffic and segmenting networks
- Increasing visibility for newly remote companies, delivering better experiences, and boosting productivity
- Managing demand for products via access to cloud resources
Making the Transition to SD-WAN Architecture
One of the biggest challenges IT now faces is creating an environment where the tools employees use work the same at home as they do in the office. SD-WAN along with proper end point software can be invaluable in creating a delightful employee experience like workers are accustomed to in office, but now working remote giving workers personal device like experiences.
By steering traffic over the best available link, SD-WAN technology optimizes available bandwidth by:
- Applying forward error-correction to increase throughput and decrease packet loss
- Constantly monitoring traffic paths for packet loss and delay
- Giving higher priority to business traffic over entertainment and social media traffic
- Using traffic-handling methods that steer application traffic over multiple, less expensive links
- Zero interruption with one link down for business continuity
The unpredictability of residential internet services can also be frustrating as many are finding out during COVID-19 when accessing collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. SD-WAN for remote employees ensures predictable performance on broadband and/or mobile links. It enables superior performance for real-time applications.
Remote work is here to stay and is likely to become the preferred post-pandemic way of working for millions of people. Making SD-WAN deployments to include work-from-home employees it will empower workers to manage business activities during these unprecedented times much more timely and efficiently.
By equipping teams with the right tools and methods, organizations can deliver simple, reliable, and secure access to both traditional and cloud-based applications to keep their businesses moving in the right direction. SD-WAN is a tool you should consider in adding to your toolbox in this new way of work. Unfortunately there are as many models and brands of SD-WAN providers as there are types of tools you can find at a hardware store. They all might work, but the simplicity, security, value, and performance is significantly different across the product spectrum. You must do your homework and do actual testing before deploying as all SD-WAN’s are not created equal. Be careful not to fall for your circuit provider proposition that may offer a no charge solution as free may not be free. Your team members are your most expensive resource, so make sure the solution you choose is optimum for them.
Remember during these uncertain times as a leader don’t fear change, embrace it with confidence as your team is watching.