5 Ways to Drive Better Regional Operations with SD-WAN

Growth is a top consideration for mid-size organizations, but in today’s technology-driven environment they need the right tools in place to make their vision a reality. Organizations must deliver high-speed, secure and supported networking solutions for their HQ and branch offices. While each location receives the bandwidth that their individual connection provides, SD-WAN technology can strategically manage bandwidth allocation to different applications for optimum performance.

Consider this case study of a retail company: Each of their stores runs a variety of applications in-house. Internet of Things (IoT) devices track in-store behavior for market research purposes. Sales and marketing applications push notifications, product information and deals to the smartphones of shoppers who downloaded the company’s app. In-store operational applications constantly update inventory, pricing, customer relationship management software, loyalty programs and more. In other words, the network is busy — and it’s essential to both store operations and the customer experience.

With smart application-level management, it’s possible to ensure that critical applications are receiving the bandwidth they need. Businesses are increasingly turning to SD-WAN technology to manage these critical areas across their locations.

Make the Shift to SD-WAN

SpiceWorks recently conducted a study including more than 250 technology professionals. The participants said their most important networking values were reliability, security and quality of service. While most respondents felt that their current Internet solutions offered adequate bandwidth, the picture shifted when they took an eye toward the future. For 81% of the respondents, the feeling was that their need for bandwidth will increase in the next three years. Many companies will be meeting those increased bandwidth needs, in part, by investing in SD-WAN. A high majority of the technology professionals surveyed (86% of them) said they were either currently using SD-WAN or considering making the switch.

As a senior research manager for IDC notes, “SD-WAN has emerged as one of the hottest topics in the WAN industry. It will become one of the key building blocks of network evolution, driving the flexibility, manageability, scalability, and cost effectiveness that organizations require in their balancing act between rapidly growing requirements and much flatter budgets.”

Automate the Networking Process

SD-WAN technology makes it easier to automate the network management process. The technology uses software to centralize control of the network — simplifying oversight, prioritizing bandwidth allocation and reducing costs compared to traditional network options. The software monitors the network and demands that are placed on the network by different applications and locations. Bandwidth can be directed based on application demand and network stability. SD-WAN provides this kind of application-level management, paired with low latency. Additionally, SD-WAN provides a high degree of flexibility to scale network bandwidth to service locations as needed. Application access is easier to secure and manage.

Identify Issues Before They Arise

Monitoring networks for problems before they arise is one of the key benefits of SD-WAN. The technology ensures that solutions are rolled out before problems impact the user experience. Consider the case of an analytics program that’s gathering data, conducting an analysis, and then making adjustments to a marketing program as a result. One example might be an AI tool that changes bids in real time to buying ads based on click behavior. Low latency and lags in the system can cause disruption, and your company can lose the advantage in a highly competitive space. SD-WAN watches for issues related to bandwidth and automatically diverts capacity to the applications that need it most.

Centralize Your IT Support

One of the benefits of SD-WAN is that it allows IT managers to monitor and manage network performance from a single interface. In the past, adding new applications and network functions to different locations required manual configuration and routing. SD-WAN provides seamless delivery of new software applications to every location and user required predetermined bandwidth allocation over multiple network access types. It also allows for IT departments to manage that centrally — including rolling out the software, making preliminary adjustments to bandwidth and adjusting for additional bandwidth needs through assignment of a secondary source.

Improve the User Experience

Every component of business is driven by technology today and, in many cases, the data these applications gather is essential to the organization. Consider, for example, the information gathered on real-time production by IoT devices in a manufacturing business or the images and other data-rich information collected by a diagnostic app that’s used in a health care setting. Network speed is critical for moving data to and from the cloud, and ensuring timely processing of the information.

Company networks are experiencing a heavier demand as larger data loads and information move to the cloud. SD-WAN monitors and automatically adjusts for the needs of your company’s network on any given day. Smart bandwidth management is improving the user experience, both for employees relying on operational software and for customers using external-facing digital products.

 

SD-WAN is changing the way companies manage their networking and resources. It’s enabling companies to better support regional offices and provide a deeper level of integration across a company’s network assets. SD-WAN enables companies to perform at peak levels.

Looking to take the next step in improving operations? Visit CenturyLink.com to learn how we can help.