South African businesses are becoming aware of the benefits and opportunities that a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) represents. The retail sector, in particular, has come on board and is reaping the rewards of this corporate connectivity solution.
Globally, SD-WAN is experiencing explosive growth. Gartner estimates that SD-WAN sales will be worth about $1.25 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 15%. When you take a close look at what SD-WAN has to offer, none of these figures are surprising.
What SD-WAN brings to the table
SD-WAN provides increased bandwidth or Internet connectivity at a lower cost, better control, much simpler network management and reduced overall OpEx. It’s about much more than lower overheads though. SD-WAN also boosts network performance and bolsters productivity across offices – no matter where they are. It lends agility to businesses that want to roll out strategies that promote sustainable growth. Essentially, SD-WAN is a future-proofing plan for an enterprise network – and the company as a whole.
Simplification, streamlining and support
SD-WAN helps businesses meet modern, changing ICT demands. Some of the following scenarios might resonate.
Are customers asking for free WiFi? Perhaps you’ve identified a need for HD video and multimedia capabilities at shops? Are business applications performing poorly? Is downtime getting in the way of productivity? With legacy networks (and their providers), these challenges can be costly and time-consuming to solve.
SD-WAN is popular precisely because it puts control over all of these functions firmly in the hands of your in-house IT department. Business critical applications can be prioritised on the network to ensure top performance at all times, while traffic is routed dynamically according to the business needs. And because SD-WAN taps into multiple connections, including high-speed public broadband, the risk of network downtime is minimised.
What if you need to get a new branch online quickly? Traditional enterprise network architecture relies on MPLS providers that can take weeks to process even minor changes, let alone get an office up and running. SD-WAN facilitates the automated provisioning of premises in a matter of minutes; no special expertise required.
SD-WAN supports Software-Defined Networking and the elimination of the multiple physical devices required to run legacy networks, such as routers, WAN optimisers, and firewalls. It smoothes migration to the cloud and optimises software-as-a-service (SaaS) and services like unified communication and collaboration.
All of this adds up to a more efficient, cost-effective enterprise network that can be controlled centrally and easily. It also makes for a network that is flexible and reliable enough to support new business ideas.
SD-WAN in the African space
Many businesses remain locked into expensive, lengthy contracts with MPLS providers, and this makes switching to an SD-WAN something of a challenge. However, with hybrid solutions increasingly available (where existing infrastructure investments are honoured and built on), a surge in interest in South Africa and further afield is evident.
SD-WAN lets businesses leverage all available connectivity solutions – fibre, satellite, ADSL or LTE – at a more economical rate.
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