SD-WAN and Branch Networks: Made for Each Other

This is part two of our posts on SD-WAN technology. In the first post, we examine What is SD-WAN and Why It is So Important. In this post, we’ll take a look at why SD-WAN technology is becoming a real game changer for branch networks.

Must-Have Digital Transformation
IT professionals in dispersed enterprises face challenges unlike their counterparts in single-location, single-network organizations. It’s difficult enough to enable digital transformation at one site. Imagine if you’re charged with managing the networks at 100 or even 1000 sites, such as retail stores, bank branches, medical clinics, and hotel chains. Not an easy task. CIOs and IT directors often have to deal with multiple, disparate legacy networks, little or no IT staff at remote sites, budget cuts, increasing data demands, and poor network performance, all while trying to improve the external and internal user experience.

Digital transformation is now a must-have, not a nice-to-have business necessity. In an IDC study of 1000 IT decision makers, 98% agreed that moving to a next-gen network is critical to keep up with the needs of the business and end users.1

“Digital transformation is quickly becoming the largest driver of new technology investments and projects among businesses,” said Craig Simpson, IDC research manager. “It is already clear from our research that the businesses which have invested heavily in digital transformation over the last two–three years are already reaping the rewards in terms of faster revenue growth and stronger net profits compared to businesses lagging in digital transformation initiatives and investments.”2

The question is how do you enable digital transformation across a dispersed enterprise with consistency, speed, and agility? It takes an IT team with cool heads, spines of steel, and SD-WAN technology in its toolbox.

The Growing Popularity of SD-WAN
The most popular path to digital transformation for enterprises with branches is SD-WAN. In 2015, Gartner predicted that 30% of enterprises would have deployed SD-WAN by the end of this year (2019). Today, IDC expects the market for SD-WAN to reach $4.5 billion by the end of 2021 with an annual compound growth rate of 40.4%.3

The move to SD-WAN is fundamentally changing how dispersed enterprises communicate. The market for branch office WANs is rapidly shifting from traditional networks with dedicated routers to enhanced SD-WAN and virtual platforms.4  No longer is a traditional MPLS network with a direct connection back to the headquarters the go-to technology. According to an IDG study, 92% of respondents said they were frustrated with the high cost and complexity of MPLS connections, especially for smaller branches. And depending on where branches are located, you may need to wait weeks or even months for MPLS circuits to be installed. Or if MPLS is not available in rural areas, you’ll have to find an alternative.  

The Benefits of SD-WAN for Branch Networks
Today’s networks need agility and flexibility to accommodate enterprise-wide communications, Wi-Fi, IoT, security, as well as ever changing technology updates. SD-WAN can overlay existing networks and enable digital transformation with speed and consistency across the enterprise. Here are some of the main benefits inherent in SD-WAN deployments for enterprises with branches.

One of the most significant benefits of SD-WAN, is how much easier it is to make enterprise-wide modifications. You can upgrade applications from one central dashboard in minutes rather than days. This has great implications for controlling security cameras, PoS kiosks, IoT devices, sensors, even HVAC systems at branches whether they are down the street, across the state, or even in another country. You’ll also find it’s much easier to add sites as needed.

One of the biggest headaches CIOs and IT directors face is how to improve technology while keeping a lid on costs. SD-WAN comes to the rescue. First, you’ll eliminate time-consuming and expensive truck rolls to repair, install, and update equipment. Next, traditional network architectures and equipment are expensive. On top of that you have MPLS costs which can run $600 per Mbps per month per line. Multiply that by how many locations you have and how much bandwidth you need and the monthly expenses can become unsustainable compared to broadband or LTE connections.

This brings us to the ever increasing demand for bandwidth. For example, there are peak usage times in hotel chains when guests check in and out. Add on digital signage, security cameras, video conferencing, and PoS systems and you put more strain on the network. Solve the problem with SD-WAN.

Unlike traditional networks, SD-WAN can dynamically redistribute traffic over multiple pathways to ease the load on the network. Because SD-WAN supports multiple connections (MPLS, LTE, 4G, etc.), you can even choose how you want to transport mission-critical data versus non-critical data.

Here’s the beauty of SD-WAN. Because it’s a software-defined technology, there is a reduced dependence on hardware making it easy to set up new locations and expand existing branches. You can bring new branches online in hours instead of days or weeks.

With end-to-end encryption across the entire network, SD-WAN can meet compliance regulations to protect sensitive customer data such as banking information, purchase history, personal information, etc.

SD-WAN provides end-to-end visibility in the network and application behaviors to ensure high-performance at branches across the enterprise.

Across multiple industries, SD-WAN is changing the way enterprises with branches are approaching digital transformation and network management.

To learn more about Black Box’s SD-WAN solution, take a look at SimplEdge. It’s our “network-in-a-box” solution for branches that includes everything from the cabling, SD-WAN, Wi-Fi, and security to all deploy, manage, and support services. For more information, call us at 855-324-9909, email us at [email protected].

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  1. Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure; Joe Skorupa, Andrew Lerner, Christian Canales, Mike Toussaint; Oct 2018
  2. IDC Media Center; Businesses Will Spend Nearly $1.2 Trillion on Digital Transformation This Year as They Seek an Edge in the Digital Economy, According to a New IDC Spending Guide; April 24, 2019
  3. IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Enterprise Infrastructure 2019 Predictions; Nov. 1, 2018
  4. Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure; Joe Skorupa, Andrew Lerner, Christian Canales, Mike Toussaint; Oct 2018
BranchNetworks BranchOffice WANTransformation ConnectivitySolutions NetworkIntegration SDWAN SDWANBenefits NetworkEfficiency RemoteConnectivity NetworkOptimization Branch Networking dispersed Enterprises Enterprise Networking GSI Managed Services MPLS Remote Connectivity SD-Wan Wide Area Networking
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