To ensure your business is set up to cope with this coming revolution, a thorough analysis of your network technologies, services and underlying architecture is critical, as you revisit your network and prepare for the future.
Building reliable connectivity
As the saying goes – uptime is money. Outside of data-breaches, extended connectivity issues are an IT manager’s worst nightmare.
Whether you’re adding a second MPLS connection to a branch office or a satellite trunk to a remote site prone to physical disruption, there’s ultimately no substitute for physical redundancy built into your network.
In the last few years, SD-WAN has become increasingly important for managing a location’s redundancy, owing to its ability to dynamically route traffic across to the best-performing path in a disruption.
This, together with heightened application visibility and simplified overall management, has led to a rapid uptake of programmatic networking, with Ovum predicting that nearly one in four networks will be managed by SDN by 2020.
By 2020, roughly 25% of networks will be managed by SDN– Ovum, Getting it right: How to future-proof your digital network architecture.
Crucially for international businesses, SD-WAN can dramatically shorten the time it takes to get new locations up and running, by maximising existing local connectivity and using NFV (such as remote access, firewalls and cloud functions) to integrate the new connection into the organisation’s overall WAN. By decreasing the time and expense required to provision initial connectivity, SD-WAN helps businesses maintain flexibility, such as trialling a new region or market before committing.
However, it’s important to note that neither SD-WAN, nor software-defined networking in general, can substitute for poor underlying WAN infrastructure and network connections.
Ethernet-based services, such as EVPN, EPL and EPLX, still represent the ideal combination of high-speed bandwidth connectivity and consistent performance between data centres and hub sites for organisations.
What to look for in a global network partner
Of course, you need to choose the right network partner to keep pace with change.
In addition to their international connectivity and experience in the local market, several key characteristics distinguish effective network partners to help you manage your expanding connectivity.
A key emerging consideration is whether a service provider can offer direct private-line connectivity into public cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft’s Azure. Optimising the performance of your mission-critical applications starts with this connection, especially when dealing with inconsistent local infrastructure – which can have adverse effects on your customer experience and productivity.
As security concerns ramp up for enterprises, it’s important to find a partner that not only has a substantial history in managing cybersecurity, but also one that can work with you to ensure your connections are compliant with rules outlined in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, as well as local data sovereignty laws.
Finally, look for a network partner that actively seeks to understand your business, and channels that knowledge into ongoing optimisation of your environment. In this respect, when comparing premium providers to others, consider the additional manual labour required from your team to maintain and optimise the network. This is particularly important if you’re adopting software-defined networking, which can often require skills your team might not have in-house.
As businesses continue to simplify their operations, many are finding their ideal partner is a global one-stop-shop that provides hybrid VPNs, uses MPLS at key sites and high-quality local connections at smaller sites – all woven together into a secure and reliable SD-WAN.