Thursday, 19th September 2019

Embrace the new world with SD-WAN

Imagine that we live in a world with a single capital city. It’s surrounded by multiple remote cities, and the only way to travel between these cities is using six-lane motorways that connect them all together. By Chalan Aras, VP & GM NetScaler SD-WAN, Citrix and Tertius Bouwer, Channel SE - Citrix Networking.

Let’s call this city Kings Landing. Most of our friends and family live here – and it’s the most popular city to visit. I can load my family into my car and drive to any city without traffic congestion, traffic lights or ‘one way systems’ holding me up. I don’t need maps because I only have one route to get there. Life is so easy. And if I want to travel to a different city, I just need to go to Kings Landing first, and from there I can find an easy way to get to my destination.

However, in reality, we live in a world with 195 odd countries, scattered over seven continents. And people want choices on how to move between different locations — cars, trains, planes, boats; whatever works. They want to be able to make informed decisions on how far away a destination is, how long it will take to get there, and if there are any obstacles that will affect their travel time.

Our networks are no different. They need to be able to adapt based on the destination, to get end-users to where they need to be – quickly and efficiently.

Companies are embracing the cloud, and with the drive for cloud transformation - whether in a public cloud, private cloud, or as a service - comes new networking requirements. Today’s “work from anywhere” world requires an application-centric hybrid WAN network, powered by SD-WAN, that supports any type of connectivity, agnostic of provider and location. SD-WAN is a clear leader in this regard.

Returning to the theme of inter-city travel, can you remember the first time you used a ride-sharing service? Maybe you don’t remember your first ride specifically, but I bet you also don’t remember the last time you took a traditional taxi (or you might wish you didn’t). SD-WAN is akin to the Uber of the networking world.

Automation and efficiency

In the old model, a human operator controls the fleet of individual taxis out on the streets; in the traditional network model, each device is managed separately.

Today, ride-sharing software automates every component of the transportation equation: available vehicles, route efficiency, real-time demand… the list goes on and on. SD-WAN technology connects enterprise networks - including branch offices, data centres, cloud-based workloads, software-as-a-service and unified communications-as-a-service - through automation to deliver the same result: a seamless, convenient and ultra-efficient experience. Just like grabbing the nearest ride with a simple click, SD-WAN relies on a single pane of control to manage all the points where the network is running.

Availability and awareness

We’re all familiar with the stress of securing a taxi exactly when and where we need it. You know the struggle of trying to contact your driver amidst inevitable changing conditions. If the taxi isn’t there when it was supposed to be, you’re scrambling to call a friend for a last minute ride… far from ideal.

In the ride-sharing economy, availability isn’t a concern. Your ride-sharing app is integrated with a host of third-party apps that ensure contextual awareness. Looking up directions on Google Maps? You can order a Lyft within Google Maps to get where you’re going.

In a similar sense, SD-WAN comes with built-in app awareness that contextually assesses which apps to prioritise in real time to ensure an optimal end-user experience. It knows which apps require an Uber Black connection quality and which can ride Uber Pool. The days of shaky video and voice communications are over. SD-WAN is designed to efficiently and consistently handle the high-volume of application traffic that the modern and future world produces.

Most importantly, SD-WAN ensures that the network is always available. After all, the business consequences of a network going down are a lot harsher than showing up fifteen minutes late to a dinner because your ride got stuck in gridlock.

Security and visibility

The ability to share your ride status with friends and family isn’t only convenient - it’s an essential safety feature. You can feel safe in the knowledge that your ride is being recorded in its entirety, that your driver has been vetted, and that they have a positive average rating. In contrast, old style taxis have us questioning who any given taxi driver is, or what kind of experiences people have had with them. Ride-sharing safety features are so common-sense, it’s hard to imagine a time before them.

SD-WAN’s built-in security features cover everything from common-sense protection to hyper-intelligent, real-time threat defence. It’s designed to integrate securely with and complement cloud providers’ security systems, redefining the enterprise security perimeter into the cloud era. Built-in encryption and firewalls are just a few examples of the technology that give businesses one less thing to worry about.

A software-defined future

As enterprises continue to move applications and business processes to the cloud, they need to ensure their employees will have consistent, high-quality, and 24/7 access to the data and apps they need. It is critical to guarantee a superior end-user experience, un-muffled voice feeds, and crystal-clear video - especially when it concerns customer calls.

Enterprises must ensure they’re taking advantage of all the opportunities the cloud has to offer while maintaining local efficiency and visibility where it’s needed. They need a hybrid-cloud model to strike a confident balance between true scalability, security and granular control. SD-WAN has the potential to deliver on all of this, along with providing a security perimeter fit for the cloud era.

SD-WAN is a crucial component of any hybrid cloud environment. It’s a prerequisite in a modern enterprise arena characterised by digital transformation, cloud sprawl, aggressive cyber attacks, and a new era of integrated communications-as-a-service. Simply put, SD-WAN is the backbone of the new securely defined perimeter for the cloud world.

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