3 types of companies that should consider using SD-WAN

Young African American businesswoman smiling while working

Article content

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) technology and adaptive networks: overlay, underlay, SASE. Each of these aspects of SD-WAN can offer benefits to companies of all types and sizes, but the technology is fairly new, so what I often get asked is, “Is SD-WAN the right solution for my business? Is it better than multiprotocol label switching (MPLS)?”

For many, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, enterprise deployments of SD-WAN continue to nearly double each year, according to most industry reports. With its inherent networking flexibility, SD-WAN is widely viewed as the ideal replacement for many legacy enterprise wide-area networks (i.e., MPLS), and is perfectly suited to today’s agile and increasingly cloud-centric business environments.

Still, some companies are trying to determine if it’s right for them. Let me share some examples of what types of companies should be using SD-WAN right now.

Example 1: Start-ups and small businesses

A business may be defined as “small” by its number of employees or average annual receipts. However, these qualitative characteristics aren’t nearly as relevant when assessing networking requirements.

An organization in the manufacturing sector could be classified as a small business with no more than 500 employees and average annual receipts of $100M. However, that business may have three to four automated plants distributed within a region or globally that require connectivity to a centralized ERP to closely track and monitor raw materials and final products. As you can see, the number of employees not always define the extent of a wide-area network.

SD-WAN can be a good fit for small business and start-ups, depending on the use cases and how critical the network infrastructure is to support business growth and operations. For example, organizations are increasingly relying on business automation to deliver data intelligence that can help them to make agile decisions. The data collected by business automation can be securely and reliably transferred to the cloud via SD-WAN, so it can be analyzed in real time and provide feedback to the business that can lead them to enter new markets or define new opportunities.

This is just one of many use cases that a SD-WAN solution can support for small businesses and start-ups.

Example 2: Remote workforces

The increasing numbers of remote and hybrid workers, accelerated by the pandemic, have forced enterprises to rethink their network connectivity strategies, based on demand, user needs and network bandwidth optimization.

The shift toward remote work is often noted for enabling increased productivity but it can also bring tremendous disruption and network challenges to organizations. One of the main challenges for organizations when adopting hybrid models is how to extend the reach of their security controls outside the perimeter of their legacy data centers.

This has driven IT teams to require better visibility into their network and adjust their security posture, especially as more critical applications move to the cloud. Many legacy WANs don’t make it easy to have complete end-to-end visibility into the status and performance of an entire network at any given moment, not the best situation to be in with today’s high-pressure always-on environments – another factor driving the adoption of SD-WAN.

To protect against the risk of sensitive data leakage or potential breaches to corporate networks, IT often requires organizations to take a Zero Trust Access approach, providing remote workforces with the minimum required privileges to perform their jobs and micro-segment access based on the context of the applications.

Telstra’s managed SD-WAN solution enables customers to implement this type of Zero Trust Access approach, allowing remote locations and workers to easily comply with security requirements and providing yet another scenario where a managed SD-WAN approach is the solution to consider.

Example 3: Organizations with little to no IT expertise in house

Organizations need to spend their time focusing on critical and strategic projects that will increase or improve their business revenue and drive growth, not worrying about the technology behind the scenes.

Using software-based technologies more suited to today’s adaptive networking needs, companies are no longer limited to inflexible, costly and time-consuming options involving monthly service provider contracts and large IT support teams. They can take advantage of “as a service” networking models, working with a partner like Telstra that understands the concerns, problems and benefits that are motivating decision-makers to adopt SD-WAN.

With SD-WAN networking in place, it’s now possible to meet users’ modern technology expectations and create network infrastructures enabling flexibility, efficiency, lower unit cost and scalability – all while being simple enough for users to manage themselves. They can easily scale bandwidth up or down, or for certain time periods, on a customized network designed to integrate with open-source cloud environments and also built with the latest and most popular applications in mind.

Everyone needs data

Regardless of a company’s size, industry, customer base or location, data is playing a larger role in digital transformation plans.

A flexible and agile network infrastructure can help automate key business processes, reduce costs and free up human resources for higher-value activities. As a result, organizations become better-equipped to gather, evaluate and use real time data and analytics to create meaningful impacts across every aspect of their business – from finance and growth to marketing and customer service.

Using this “insight to impact” approach, a company can make data-driven decisions that can potentially “future-proof” their operations, versus just going with a strategy they think is best.

The technology world is evolving and everyone needs to either adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. A combination of SD-WAN and adaptive networking helps organizations adjust their network needs accordingly, navigate the current complex dynamics of working environments and set themselves up for whatever the future of work will look like.

Ready to chat about how we can help you get started with SD-WAN? Get in touch here