The Modern Network: Evolution from Hardware to SD-WAN

By : |October 9, 2019 0

Indian enterprises are in the middle of an evolutionary leap. Though cloud computing created a foundation in the Indian market a long time ago, its impact is only being realized today, especially for the Indian SMEs and enterprises, who are moving their IT to the cloud.

In fact, according to IDC, India’s overall spending on public cloud services and infrastructure is expected to reach $2.9 billion in 2019. This makes premium-quality network connectivity a ‘must have’ for enterprises and end users. And yet, much of today’s wide-area network (WAN) equipment is still based on technology that dates to the late 1990s – the ‘Jurassic era’ of corporate networks.

Modern enterprises use the cloud for a rapidly growing range of purposes, from SaaS to cloud-based intelligent workspaces. Still, for various reasons such as cost, regulations, or latency, some resources remain on-premise, either in the data center or at the edge, resulting in a hybrid cloud architecture.

This makes the wide area network a critical component, especially as employees work from multiple locations: headquarters, regional offices, production sites or home offices. In addition, a substantial number of users are traveling, accessing corporate resources from airports, train stations, hotel rooms, restaurants, customer sites, or on the go.

In today’s real-time digital economy, employees need to be able to access all corporate resources – on-premises as well as in the cloud – from any location, any time. In a state-of-the-art scenario, intelligent workspaces provide them with individual work environments via a single sign-on (SSO) over a securely encrypted connection, giving them an easy path to all their apps and files in a familiar, consumer-style interface, and with machine learning-based performance optimizations and security.

This allows them to work from home – or from any location they choose – instead of having to dive into the time-consuming and often chaotic commuter traffic that dominates city streets, in metropolitan areas such as Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. And it allows distributed teams to collaborate in real time across long distances – a huge business advantage, particularly in a vast country like India, or for enterprises that operate across country borders and different time zones.

This sets a very high bar for the network: flexible access to on premise- and cloud-based apps, data, and workspaces requires fast, reliable, and secure network connectivity. The challenge: while most enterprises have made huge steps toward the cloud, the WAN, unfortunately, lags behind. In many cases, enterprises still rely on multi-protocol label switching technology developed twenty years ago – an eon in the IT world. This legacy equipment was designed for static site-to-site connectivity, not today’s agile, software-defined, multi-cloud world.

The logical – even necessary – solution to this challenge is to replace traditional WAN equipment with a modern software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). SD-WAN creates a virtual overlay of all available network links, be they corporate intranet, internet, wi-fi, or cell phone connections. It establishes a virtual web of secure VPN tunnels between corporate sites, cloud instances, and endpoints, intelligently aggregating bandwidth across links and prioritizing critical traffic.

This ensures, for example, that a video conference is always routed via the best connection, providing a superior conferencing experience. Unsurprisingly, analysts expect the SD-WAN market to quadruple: from $1.0 billion in 2018 to $4.1 billion in 2023.

SD-WAN is the next logical step for WAN connectivity. It delivers the network flexibility, security, performance, and reliability that is essential for taking an enterprise into the cloud era while maintaining a superior employee experience. India, being the fastest growing major economy in the world, is seeing strong growth in demand for next-generation connectivity solutions.

This is exactly what the SD-WAN offers – an escape from the Jurassic park of WAN equipment, leading the way to business success in an agile, software-driven future.

By Ravindra Kelkar – Area Vice President, Indian Sub-continent, Citrix

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