While enterprises have increased their business agility and revenue through many facets of information technology, WANs and branch office networks continue to impede most IT projects.
Compute and storage, as well as core applications like CRM, HR and Microsoft Office, have moved to the cloud. Yet WANs continue to use 20-year-old private line technology (MPLS) and expensive, proprietary networking hardware.
This results in slow provisioning times for new offices or even basic changes to configurations and functions, as well as high costs for network equipment and WAN services, complex branch architectures and high administrative overhead.
“The economy has digitised, which has created a new set of requirements for a WAN that is a strategic platform rather than the plumbing that connects an enterprise. Also, businesses have greatly expanded their use of public cloud applications, which upends traditional WAN architectures that were designed to connect remote sites to business applications hosted in a corporate data centre. Finally, software-defined networking invaded the WAN, enabling enterprises to expand their use of the public Internet for critical business traffic. All of these factors have converged to drive revolutionary change in the WAN,” said Andre Kannemeyer, CTO at Duxbury Networking – the distributors of Versa Networks solutions.
Industry analysis firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) reported in their research entitled How Enterprises Succeed with Software-Defined WAN that network complexity, cloud migration complexity, and bandwidth constraints are the most prominent technical challenges that enterprises encounter with their WANs today.
According to the report, enterprises are struggling with network complexity associated with managing distributed infrastructure.
For instance, many enterprises have hundreds of remote sites and branch offices, each with routers, firewalls, WAN optimisation controllers, local switching and Wi-Fi.
The report states that the other prominent source of network complexity is associated with the management of multiple types of transport, such as private WAN connectivity, broadband Internet, and wireless WAN technology like 4G/LTE.
Cloud migration complexity is a prominent challenge, and the report revealed that the cloud is a major driver of change in the WAN. Enterprises are forced to invest in new technologies and re-architect the network because of this.
Secondary challenges are poor application performance and a lack of network visibility, while other challenges included rapid change in business requirements, rapid business growth, and a lack of skills and knowledge in the networking team.
EMA asked enterprises to identify the business issues and the technical initiatives that are most impacting their overall WAN strategies.
Security is the number one technical driver, while hybrid cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the next two most common technical drivers.
The next three leading drivers are multi-cloud architecture, SaaS migration, and IaaS migration.
The research revealed that enterprises are embracing changes like direct cloud access from remote sites.
“They are using the Internet and wireless WAN connectivity as replacements or supplements to MPLS. They are interested in consolidating branch office infrastructure with virtualisation.”
“It’s clear that SD-WAN solutions address many of these requirements. They support changes in connectivity strategy, simplify transitions in network connectivity, and offer integrated security. Furthermore, their centralised management consoles are easier to use than traditional network management approaches,” said Kannemeyer.
Versa Networks enables enterprises to re-architect their enterprise WAN and branch office networks through a software-based and multi-service approach to SD-WAN – leveraging Versa software and low-cost appliances versus proprietary network hardware, and providing a full set of integrated SD-WAN and SD-Security functions.
“This allows enterprises to reduce the Capex and Opex of their WAN and branch networks, while increasing IT responsiveness to business needs. The time required to manage the network is minimised, and branch security is strengthened,” said Kannemeyer.
This article was published in partnership with Duxbury Networking.