Why companies need to embrace software defined network solutions

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Tony Rop,Product Development Manager, Internet Solutions

Cost-cutting has always been a priority for business executives across nearly every market. Feeling the pinch of economic uncertainty, enterprises the world over are being forced to look into ways to reduce their overheads and drive growth initiatives.

Recently, the spotlight has moved to IT departments. The evolution of connectivity solution technologies like Software Driven Networks (SD-WAN) have made it possible to get more out of the IT budget, while increasing the efficiency of IT operations.

The architecture of traditional Wide Area Networks (WANs) depends on multiple hardware devices and multiple vendors. This arrangement is complex and carries a steep price-tag, particularly when an enterprise is looking to expand its operations. Provisioning a new office can take months and needs to be done on-site by a suitably experienced technician. Similarly, network updates can be a time-consuming and logistical challenge.

The cost of legacy networks is high, and their flexibility and scalability are often low. A wide area network that is built around multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links will often struggle to keep pace with increased performance demands; a situation we are seeing more and more in Kenya as companies migrate their applications to the cloud. IT managers may patch the situation by adding more bandwidth, but this is too expensive to be a long-term solution.

Software defined networks have advanced in leaps and bounds. One of the reasons the technology has become such a hot topic in IT is the savings and efficiency it can bring to a business. Unlike legacy networks, software driven networks do not require numerous devices. Less hardware in-house means lower capital expenditure.

With the right product, the entire network can be controlled from one central point – making maintenance and updates much simpler, less time consuming, and therefore more cost-effective. It also increases security and visibility. Further slashing the tasks and time required of technical staff is the zero-touch provisioning feature many SD-WAN solutions have; setting up a new branch can be done automatically (without special support staff) and in a matter of minutes. This means that remote offices can be online and productive.

Software defined solutions benefit IT departments and the businesses that they serve in other ways too. They boost the performance and reliability of the enterprise network by tapping into all possible connections – including inexpensive broadband. If one link goes down, traffic can be routed via another, ensuring always-on connectivity. The cost-savings here are twofold: through the cost-effective connections themselves, and the reduction in network downtime and subsequent loss of revenue.

Additionally, relying on less equipment reduces the likelihood of device failure, and that further diminishes the risk of network outages. This is important, as 24/7 connectivity has become a basic business need. A good SD-WAN also ensures that maintenance, as mentioned above, is much less complex – and can often be handled in-house, without the need for hiring external engineers.  All of this adds up to lower ongoing.

Software defined network is application-aware and translates into smart traffic routing, and critical apps are prioritized for reliably high performance across the network. A look at the benefits of software defined networks would be incomplete without a nod to scalability and flexible access to resources means that the network can be expanded or shrunk accordingly, depending on whether or not the underlying provider supports this model.

Reducing expenditure in the IT department enables an enterprise to fund projects in other areas, supporting the overall success – and sustainability – of the organization. Simplifying the workload of the IT department also frees up staff to focus on projects that promote business growth, instead of simply maintaining the status quo.

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