The lockdowns in 2020 provided a worldwide case study on the benefits and drawbacks of working from home. For the past five years, futurists have claimed that the static office won’t last, but it’s taken global disruption to push businesses into making this a reality. And the challenges soon became evident.
For every productive parent working around the school run, there’s a fight for bandwidth on the home broadband. Over the past year, it’s estimated that more than 80 per cent of homeworkers have wasted at least 30 minutes a day due to poor connectivity. Multiply that by more than 200 employees and you’re talking a serious lack of productivity.
And for every reassurance in business continuity, there’s the worry of home Wi-Fi security. In the scramble to set up a remote working solution in reaction to COVID, people simply trusted the built-in security of consumer devices to protect sensitive data. This situation isn’t sustainable.
The future of office-based working is hybrid working, with people seamlessly accessing work applications in the office, on the train or at home. To achieve this, you need consistent, secure, high-speed connectivity. And that’s exactly what software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) provide. SD-WAN empowers IT teams to provide greater visibility and flexibility.
Traditional networks can’t transform at the same speed as today’s businesses grow and tech evolves. Businesses that have already moved to an SD-WAN have realised that their current bandwidth demands exceed traditional architectures.
SD-WAN gives greater visibility over the network and futureproofs the business to leverage emerging technologies. Whether that’s the speed of 5G or the data lakes provided by IoT devices, businesses need networks that deliver more intelligence. SD-WAN makes it possible to manage network traffic to ensure a high-quality user experience across all connections.
Digital transformation requires a solid foundation
An SD-WAN is the connective tissue that links devices to business applications through secure, high-speed connectivity. SD-WANs use software to control the connectivity between data centres, remote branches or cloud instances.
It also offers network admins a deeper understanding of what’s happening within each application and session in real-time. This allows businesses to maximise the use of available capacity, identify bottlenecks and react to network demands faster.
Building an environment for seamless working requires complete visibility over your connectivity, which is where platforms like Onecom’s OneCloud play a key role. They allow businesses to have full control of their data, cloud and connectivity, which serves as a foundation for seamless working, operational scalability and long-term success. In partnership with Vodafone, one of the leading SDN providers, OneCloud provides all the visibility and control powered by the latest in software-defined networking.
Security remains a key concern
Gartner predicts 40 per cent of boards will have a dedicated cybersecurity committee by 2025. This board-level organisational shift demonstrates the priority businesses put on cybersecurity. Not only did cybercrime increase during the pandemic, but remote working also presents new complications in identifying and reacting to security breaches. As we continue building a hybrid workplace, changes need to be made both in cyber and IT security policy, as well as IT infrastructure.
SD-WANs aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to VPN security. Secure encrypted tunnels remain the same from a technology deployment perspective.
But what an SD-WAN brings to security is the insight created from granular reporting. It allows you to see exactly what traffic is passing across the WAN, giving you better visibility. Combine this with the ability to deploy next-gen firewalls and DDOS protection and you can create an environment that’s naturally more secure, informative, robust and business driven.
Secure access service edge (SASE) is the next evolution of an SDN. It extends the capability of your business network to any end-user device, anywhere. This allows remote workers to benefit from all the performance and security they’re used to within the office, regardless of their device or location.
Ultimately, this means you don’t have to create new processes or standards for remote and hybrid operations. You have one set of rules and one network that is accessible by everyone.
The network is your digital enabler
By tying together on-premise, private and public cloud requirements with remote workers, SD-WAN allows admins to enforce compliance and security policies, maximise traffic to high-priority apps and manage a hybrid workforce easily and effectively. And businesses need this now more than ever.
Key enterprise applications, like unified communications, are richer and more sophisticated than ever. Based in the cloud and integrating resource-heavy video calling, these functions place a greater demand on network latency and bandwidth.
An SD-WAN provides clear and well-supported value to any organisation. From improved user experience to a reduction in OpEx, the impact is significant. Data is fast becoming the currency of the digital future and an SD-WAN offers businesses a means of seeing and controlling the flow of that asset.
by Andy Jane, Chief technology officer at Onecom
If you would like to learn more about SD-WAN, you can subscribe to our new webinar series, OneTALKS. In Onecom’s next OneTALKS webinar, we will be discussing ‘Becoming Future Ready with SD-WAN’ along with Vodafone’s Head of Connectivity Atul Rana.