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SD-WAN: The Key Piece in Your Customers’ COVID-19 Digital Transformation

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MetTel's Ed FoxIn the post COVID-19 environment, business leaders are quickly realizing the benefits of building more agile, efficient and adaptable operations that can thrive in a rapidly changing and unpredictable environment. Although digital transformation (DX) has been a hot topic for the past few years, the pandemic has made clear the DX benefits to be captured as businesses work to accommodate the needs of a largely remote workforce.

As a result, businesses are greatly accelerating their DX, specifically looking at increasing their overall connectivity – with one key solution being software-defined networking (SD-WAN). Faced with this unprecedented shift, businesses have found themselves ill-prepared and left scrambling to support a fully distributed and mobile employee base. The rapid impact of COVID-19 has strained their ability to provide the mobility, bandwidth and security they need to resume business as usual and address future network challenges.

While others look for solutions, businesses and their partners who have already embraced SD-WAN are finding the flexibility to support remote connectivity and a more cost-effective way to provide coverage. A key benefit of SD-WAN is customization, providing automatic adjustments that quickly optimize and adapt to each organization’s unique needs. It enables businesses to manage their network and its connections through software instead of hardware, which can be very costly and difficult to replace. With the move to SD-WAN, IT leaders can exert greater control over their network, making changes in response to their environment and current needs. Furthermore, access to real-time visibility into applications and network traffic can reveal key insights and trends, helping business leaders to drive smarter decisions.

This intelligence is particularly valuable in the post-pandemic environment, where businesses are turning to emerging technologies like IoT and AI/ML as part of their DX to help them realize efficiencies and gain a competitive advantage. At the same time, these organizations are looking for opportunities to cut costs, which makes SD-WAN an even more attractive option. Similar to solar panels, SD-WAN requires an upfront investment that is eventually recouped in savings over time as businesses identify the most efficient set-up for their needs and in some cases the convergence of different purpose built networks (i.e. voice and data) can fund and offset this investment immediately.

While helping your customers decide if SD-WAN is right for their organization, consider the following:

  • Remote service. SD-WAN is proficient at bringing multiple locations together that lack a physical connection. Identify an SD-WAN solution that offers no-touch provisioning in order to deliver updates and applications remotely, removing the need for a technician.
  • Data security. Today’s sophisticated threats require the latest in security protection. Although SD-WAN offers a layer of security, point toward a vendor that offers advanced security options, such as integration with security applications to help customers manage their security stack more effectively.
  • Looking ahead. While all eyes are on COVID-19, the changes made today should also help prepare your organization for the anticipated impact of 5G and other technologies down the road. A good SD-WAN vendor should offer solutions engineered to help organizations thrive once these disruptive technologies become more commonplace, even if your industry is still playing catch up.

Upgrading network architecture may not be the first item on your customers’ COVID-19 recovery plan, but should be considered an integral part of building a more reliable, resilient and efficient connected business. Investing in a solution like SD-WAN can provide the flexibility and cost savings their organization needs now, while laying the road map for its next evolution.

Ed Fox is chief technology officer at MetTel, the provider of integrated voice, data, network, cloud, and mobility IT solutions for businesses and government agencies nationwide.


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