Even prior to the massive workplace shifts that took place during 2020, global growth predictions for SD-WAN implementations were significant.
However, as businesses accelerated the move to cloud-based environments to harness the associated cost and efficiency benefits of distributed workforces, there has undoubtedly been renewed impetus for software-defined wide-area networking technology with its promise of secure, reliable connectivity into both traditional and cloud-based applications.
In essence, SD-WAN technology empowers organisations to digitise their business and consume cloud technologies that drive new opportunities for growth. The “new normal” that sees employees accessing corporate systems around the clock — regardless of their geographic location — is here to stay, as companies pursue fully remote or hybrid modes of work. That said, the stop-gap measures implemented last year just to keep operations running at a time when it was not possible to go into the office must now be replaced with more robust technologies that deliver the longevity needed for a digitally driven marketplace. That’s where the Telviva One unified communications platform comes in.
Arguably, the next step requires that leaders ensure a consistent user experience, providing secure access to applications that still deliver on the requirements of mission-critical operations, and doing so from anywhere (using virtually any type of medium). Traditional networks cannot support this and can quickly become complex and expensive to not only set up but also maintain. Moreover, legacy infrastructure cannot keep up with the rapidly evolving demands that a cloud-based environment places on the company network, employee devices, and the data and applications they use to deliver on their strategic mandates.
This is where SD-WAN can be leveraged to secure “cloud communities”, in which people can interact with each other in a protected location away from the public Internet. Of course, SD-WAN is about more than just the nuts and bolts of secure connectivity. The real driving factor is for people to communicate with each other clearly and effectively through all channels — whether those are voice, video, chat or text — and interact with data in a fast, efficient and secure manner to bring context to business and operational decision making.
An evolving technology
From a purely mechanical perspective, SD-WAN provides the overlay that includes security, visibility and performance. It is not hardware-driven, but lives in a software environment that can be consumed anywhere. This is especially vital given the importance that edge computing and the Internet of things will play in a data-rich environment.
Notably, what is helping in this regard is that SD-WAN has evolved in its scope, and those that implement it have become more adept at using it in the right ways. Of course, the technology itself is maturing, especially given how the pandemic has forced organisations to speed up the decision-making process to support their remote workforce. But this is also what is making the technology sustainable and, in a manner of speaking, futureproof.
The fact that SD-WAN is permeating even organisations beyond the ICT and financial services sectors indicates that the technology is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. It will become part of the building blocks for the way businesses connect securely into cloud-based applications, and communities, in the future.
Delivering on its promise
This does not mean that companies can turn to SD-WAN as a silver bullet to fix all their connectivity and cloud challenges. There is no “one size fits all” way in which the technology can deliver value. Each business must assess how it should be integrated into existing environments.
For instance, a company can consider starting the journey by bridging the traditional network into a virtual SD-WAN environment. This will allow it to provide secure remote connectivity for the distributed workforce to connect to traditional applications, while slowly transitioning these solutions into the cloud. SD-WAN is the enabler to do this safely and securely, without degradation of services. It gives the organisation the visibility and control it needs right from the cloud application through to the endpoint, in whichever form that might take.
Currently, one of the focus areas that help drive the decision-making process to SD-WAN technology lies in security. Security into cloud-based applications, and soon virtual cloud communities, coupled with the ability to provide the control and management right down to the endpoint, makes it a significant business enabler.
SD-WAN will soon be an integral part of business, the network, and the applications that drive cloud-based environments and communities. Companies must start to embrace this technology, particularly given the focus on distributed work and the increasing need to safeguard data assets.
Telviva, formerly Connection Telecom, is a market leader in cloud-based communications for business. Seamlessly integrating voice, video and chat in one intelligent platform, Telviva enables you to have better-quality conversations with customers, suppliers and staff.
For several years, we have presented a portfolio of brands, namely Connection Telecom, Telviva and Fat Budgie. These have now been consolidated under the Telviva banner to better align our product understanding and messaging, enabling our customers to maximise the benefits of consolidating all their general business communications into a single cloud application.
For more information, please visit www.telviva.co.za.
- David Browne is regional executive at Telviva
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