Unified Communications and Connectivity Director
Whatever industry you’re in – and whatever the size of your business – technology is forcing you to evolve faster than ever before. The volume and value of data on our networks has never been higher, and employees need to access it at speed, using the latest tools and platforms.
Fortunately, most businesses see this as an advantage. Our recent Global Trends Report found that 92% of enterprises believe technology can help them to conquer their business challenges. But, of course, gaining an advantage from technology means being able to keep up with it.
It’s well-known that the pace of evolution is only set to increase. The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing all the time – with some estimates predicting the market will be worth $457 billion by 20201 all of which will be transmitting data that’s analysed by increasingly intuitive artificial intelligence (AI) – and very soon a 5G mobile network will provide higher speeds and lower latency.
If businesses are to keep benefitting from technology – rather than losing out to their competitors – they will need an infrastructure that can keep pace.
An enterprise’s network will help determine their success. But, perhaps ironically, it’s here that many businesses have failed to keep up – and it could hinder their survival in the future.
So is WAN your digital transformation kryptonite?
Being left WAN-ting
Despite the rapid rate of technological change, business’ fixed networks have remained largely static. Wide Area Networks (WAN) have been the workhorses of enterprise connectivity for many years and remain crucial for many organisations.
Unfortunately, these networks have many characteristics that make them unsuitable for the age of digital transformation – particularly their inflexibility.
WAN networks are designed to ensure continuous service for the business even during periods of peak demand. Although this (usually) guarantees capacity, it means paying for bandwidth capacity that you might only need once a year. To use a retail analogy, you’re paying for Black Friday capacity even when it’s a sunny bank holiday.
That makes this model expensive, and network costs account for a significant proportion of capital expenditure for most businesses.
Because WAN networks rely on static hardware, network management is often a manual, siloed process. It’s difficult to provision capacity for new technology – and harder to manage security threats. However advanced your digital strategy, WAN can hold you back.
The SDN superpower
Moving to Software Defined Networking (SDN) can help to supercharge any digital transformation journey.
A software-defined network is configured centrally, so network changes can be implemented in real-time from a single location. This means you can view and control network traffic from a single pane of glass, adjusting resource requirements with precision and routing connectivity on-demand.
SD-WAN is much better suited to meeting organisations’ digital needs, which can vary widely due to technological and business demand. For example, company initiatives like a flash sale or a multi-country webinar can increase demand for a period of time and with SD-WAN this spike in traffic can be prioritised accordingly.
With in-built analytics, software-defined networks can be re-configured to prioritise certain applications, all while providing a seamless service. This delivers significant cost-savings and meets business, technology and customer needs.
Ready for tomorrow
Importantly, against a backdrop of constant change, software-defined networks are also ready to meet the needs of tomorrow.
Agility is more important than ever for businesses to respond to fast-changing markets. That can mean launching new services, creating new teams or even opening in whole new markets.
But to achieve any of that, you need a network that can adapt in seconds, not weeks – through SD-WAN.
Of course, the business also needs to be able to adapt to new technologies. Innovations like IoT, augmented reality and 4K streaming promise as-yet unknown applications for the business, but they will also take up significant capacity and processing power.
Software-defined networks not only flex to accommodate new technologies: they also continue to evolve alongside those technologies.
For example, as machine learning and artificial intelligence evolves, businesses can expect to see a self-taught system that anticipates and adjusts to demand automatically. This will ensure that users always get the best quality of service, whatever their future holds.
Beating the kryptonite
The rate of technological change will only increase – and businesses must keep pace. But while networks might be less glamorous than many other innovations, they can make or break digital transformation strategies.
With a software-defined network, you can not only match your bandwidth to demand, but help IT teams understand the impact new technologies will gave on the network and plan accordingly.
And, of course, the more efficient use of bandwidth can be invested into more valuable areas – like the new technologies themselves.
Moving from WAN to SD-WAN can superpower your digital transformation and ensure your network is ready for whatever is around the corner.
Read more about how SD-WAN could help your business here.