A keyboard with a green key labeled “SD-WAN” that a finger is touching.

How the Benefits of SD-WAN Can Improve Business Operations

Does your business have multiple locations, remote workers, a call center, or just need reliable continuous operations? Are network ‘hiccups’ harmful to your business? Then it might be worthwhile to investigate the next generation of WAN, known as SD-WAN.

SD-WAN is a solution for network outages. As work – software applications, customer accounts, and business financial data – increasingly moves to the cloud, a reliable Internet connection becomes an important priority.

But as we move to the cloud, protecting that data as it moves from site to worker to site also rises in importance. After analyzing years of breaches and ransomware attacks, cyber experts (starting with Gartner) have come to recommend a new approach to security dubbed “SASE,” or Secure Access Security Edge. We will explain SASE in depth in a future article, but for today, the main point to remember is that you need SD-WAN in place to move to a SASE approach to security.

SD-WAN can improve your business today – especially if your business depends on your communications working at all times. Read on to learn more about this solution that improves the infrastructure experience.

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What is an SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is short for Software-Defined Wide-Area Network. It’s a new and improved version of the traditional WAN and addresses the challenges presented by traditional WANs. As businesses increasingly work with cloud-hosted applications and services (i.e. not stored on your premises), a strong, reliable, and resilient connection to the Internet becomes crucial. Your ATMs and ITMs, your Telehealth sessions, your Call Centers – all depend on uninterrupted customer sessions.

A traditional WAN model has more risk of an outage. A traditional WAN is a hub-and-spoke design. Your main corporate office or data center is the hub, and you have network spokes to your other locations. Your hub serves as the gateway to everything accessed via Internet, because your corporate firewall resides at your hub. If your hub is served by a single internet connection, everything goes down if, say, an accident takes out that Comcast Business Internet box or construction severs that AT&T cable.  Even if you have a redundant carrier with your WAN, there is still downtime while the connections “failover” to the working carrier.

You may already have taken steps for redundancy, perhaps with backups, or at least discussed in a disaster plan what would happen if HQ gets knocked offline for several days, perhaps due to a storm or burst pipes.

But if you operate with traditional WAN architecture plus VPN access, you could still be at risk. WANs and Virtual Private Networks were not designed for this era of remote work, putting your organization at risk for data bottlenecks. These bottlenecks can cause latency (when a process seems to lag), jitter (when the screen flickers or the audio garbles) – or even dropped sessions.

An SD-WAN provides additional network capacity, starting with at least a second, redundant Internet connection. The “Software-Defined” part of the name means this network has software that automatically reroutes your traffic should an Internet connection be lost. The software may duplicate your traffic over both connections, or it may switch traffic between connections when one is down.

The other aspect of SD-WAN is its design. With the proper security configurations in place, SD-WAN can route your workers’ or customers’ access directly to what they need. The direct approach speeds up the connection by not having to go into your hub and back out again.

Why Should My Business Transition to an SD-WAN?

A user’s request travels directly to where it needs to go without having to travel into and out of your corporate center or through an overloaded VPN. This greatly reduces the risk of your ATM customer having to start over with their withdrawal request – or your patient having to leave messages or redial if a telehealth call is dropped or garbled.

In some cases, if you are paying for a dedicated circuit between locations, such as an MPLS, SD-WAN might be more financially beneficial. It may reduce the cost of a customized connection by being a more standard, off-the-shelf solution that provides even better reliability with control returned locally.

What Are the Benefits of an SD-WAN?

Businesses that engage in SD-WAN services will experience many advantages over traditional WAN networks. Some of the benefits of an SD-WAN include improved network performance, resilience, and reliability.

1. Improved Network Performance

The Holy Grail of any cloud experience is to eliminate interruptions and lag. Your user does what they want or need to do, and boom! Done. Ideally, your user has a fleeting thought of “gosh, that was easy” – or least is not left feeling irritated from interacting with your systems.

This is the goal whether your employee is using Microsoft 365, Salesforce, or other cloud-based applications. Your employee can work without suffering interruptions or delays. Your phone system handles calls without any corruption or loss of connection. And your customers rely on your systems functioning as expected when they need to complete a transaction with your business. The frustrating wait when something “hangs” is now left to your competitors.

2. Business Resilience

When people can work anywhere for you, with access to whatever their job requires, your chances for a positive work environment increase, impacting talent retention and recruitment. When customers know your systems will always be available whenever they need to access them, word of mouth improves. SD-WAN is a business-continuity measure. When you take steps to ensure business continuity, customers, regulators, and insurers will reward you.

3. More Flexibility

Another benefit of SD-WAN is a single, centrally managed dashboard that allows you to control and manage the network, cloud, and security. With this advantage, you’ll have more flexibility in providing detailed reporting of application and network performance, and zero-touch provisioning for all locations.

To Switch to SD-WAN Services, Call Now!

Transitioning to SD-WAN services is on the horizon for community banks, healthcare providers, and law firms. The benefits of SD-WANs are numerous, and the three mentioned here are just the beginning of what you can experience.

So, suppose you want better application performance that increases employee productivity, provides a better customer experience and improves chances for business continuity. In that case, it’s time to call us for SD-WAN services.

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