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How SD-WAN is stirring up the hybrid-workplace world

Brian Schneider
9 Nov 2022

SD-WAN is not a technology that will change how we work. SD-WAN is a technology that fundamentally changes how we gain access to work. It will, in simple terms, make work easier to do – and with Gartner predicting that 85% of businesses will be “cloud-first” by 2025, SD-WAN has applications in every vertical.

Think back to the pandemic; hundreds of workers using a corporate VPN became thousands or even tens of thousands overnight. Networks needed to accommodate this, and so adaptation became a priority for organizations. Since then, many have transitioned to the cloud and are increasingly using SaaS (software-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) within multiple applications.

But today’s IT leaders demand highly available and well-performing networks that employees can easily access, whether working on-site or remotely. And yet most still use remote access methods designed for a different era. The result? Management complexity, application-performance unpredictability, and data vulnerability – all of which affect the user experience.

To accommodate for the explosion of WAN (wide area network) traffic that cloud adoption brings, maintain exceptional visibility and management of networks, and keep costs to a minimum, organizations should consider transitioning to the software-defined approach to managing remote access and cloud connectivity known as software-defined WAN, or simply SD-WAN.

The next-generation network

A key enabling technology for the network of the (not-so-distant) future, SD-WAN should be on every CIO’s shopping list. Traditionally, WAN networks rely on physical routers to connect remote or branch users to applications hosted in data centers. All this traffic – from branch offices to a hub or a data center – requires backhauling, which impacts the application performance and is rigid, complex, inefficient, and ultimately not cloud friendly.

SD-WAN empowers organizations to take the optimal path where, without the backhaul, they can directly access and immediately take advantage of newer transport mechanisms like 4G/5G. Once combined with SaaS edge technologies, a critical mass of remote infrastructure designed to be plug-in and play emerges.

Hyper-scalers like AWS, Google, and Azure are unlikely to charge you for transitioning from one part of the globe to another across their network, which also makes SD-WAN cheaper than traditional WAN network components. The hyper-scalers are fast becoming the backbone of the internet, and with SD-WAN able to simply ride over the top of them, the end user will quickly benefit.

Application in a hybrid world

The era of the Intelligent Industry is set to take hybrid working to the next level, and SD-WAN is fundamental to simplifying the management of these environments. Businesses with many remote sites will benefit in particular, especially in large-scale retail, hospitality, and manufacturing.

This comes as SD-WAN offers the capability to manage entire WAN structures from one central location. Companies can now monitor data traffic and policies for all their branch offices. With embedded application intelligence, it can even reroute data traffic around slower serving networks.

From empowering better usage of collaboration tools like Office 365 to opening new possibilities, where it can be combined with a solution like a 5G modem, SD-WAN can unlock far more mobile and agile environments in vital industries like healthcare, such as those dedicated to MRI systems, for instance.

Of course, the technology is not without familiar challenges related to security and skillsets. Both are interconnected as the lines between network and security teams continue to blur, and the necessary skillsets struggle to keep up with the pace of the technology. Finding resources that can work with these technologies is a global issue, which is why it’s important to select the right partner.
Activating hybrid possibilities at pace

The bottom line is that network performance is a significant priority for businesses everywhere. To properly take advantage of cloud-powered solutions and services, the end-user experience must be as strong as possible.
Capgemini’s SD-WAN services are dedicated to helping your business transition smoothly into this new reality by managing complexity, increasing agility, enhancing security and visibility, and reducing costs – while at the same time providing scalability and resiliency.
To help modernize an enterprise’s network at pace, we bring a critical combination of capabilities and service accelerators. This includes helping to connect you with the biggest market players – such as Cisco and VMWare – by staying vendor agnostic, as well as offering our holistic, global expertise that designs a network with the bigger picture in mind.
Seizing the potential of hybrid, the connected environment will be the sum of converging key technologies. By no means does every company’s infrastructure need to be the same to access these opportunities. But every leader must focus on their core competencies and align their core mission to access-defining enablers like SD-WAN. It’s simply time to make their networks easy.
Find out how Capgemini’s SD-WAN solutions can help modernize your business network here

<em>Brian Schneider</em>

Brian Schneider

Offering Manager, SD-WAN