Streamline Hybrid Working Through SD-WAN

With hybrid working set to become a fixture in our daily working lives, there’s a danger that traditional MPLS networking will be unable to keep up with our security and performance requirements. The answer, as we’ll explore in this blog, may well be SD-WAN.

Hybrid working, where employees split their time between the office and their homes, is here to stay. The past 18 months have accelerated workspace trends that were already evolving pre-March 2020, and it’s fair to say that any traditionally office-based organisations that don’t offer hybrid working will risk losing employees and failing to attract the best talent.

If you’re an IT Manager, you’re probably considering ways in which you can provide not just access to your users, but optimised access. Relying on employees’ home broadband – formerly used primarily for streaming and casual browsing – is a tricky proposition, with security, uptime and performance all invariably compromised when compared to the office network.

So, what’s the answer? At Six Degrees, we believe that SD-WAN will pave the way for the future of hybrid working. Deploying SD-WAN will enable you to evolve the way you use your traditional MPLS and Internet connectivity, combining them to deliver agile, cost-effective connectivity that empowers your employees to be great at what they do with a ubiquitous experience whether they are working from the office or remotely.

In this blog, we’ll explain how SD-WAN resolves some of the common challenges associated with managing user access across home and office networks, enabling your organisation to streamline hybrid working.

Resolving Common Hybrid Working Challenges

SD-WAN provides a pathway to resolving many of the hybrid working challenges organisations are facing today – especially those whose operational needs have started to extend beyond their technical capabilities. Let’s take a look at the top five we see at Six Degrees.

Spiralling Costs

Traditional network infrastructures rely on physical networks and connections, which need to be managed and maintained. The costs of doing this can escalate quickly, especially as the organisation grows or needs to add additional networks to support a hybrid working approach. Many organisations assign considerable internal resources towards maintaining traditional on-premises networks. If these networks fail, it can lead to costly fixes to restore connections and downtime for the organisation.

How SD-WAN Resolves the Challenge

SD-WAN does not rely on specific hardware or underlying technology to work – instead data is transferred over broadband connections. With SD-WAN, organisations can maximise budgets by using existing network assets and access types. It provides an adaptable logical network that can be shaped to suit shifting organisational requirements, and this agile deployment over existing or new connectivity provides MPLS capabilities over Internet circuits to scale and connect far-reaching connections.

Loss of Efficiency

Running multiple applications over traditional networks, especially when associated with hybrid working, can result in slow connectivity, leading to reduced efficiencies within teams. Many hybrid teams have migrated to cloud-based applications and systems, and as traditional networks do not have direct access to those cloud systems, data traffic can run slower which can lead to teams being more inefficient.

How SD-WAN Resolves the Challenge

As our vendor partner Fortinet has explored in a recent blog, SD-WAN can be configured to prioritise business-critical traffic and real-time services like VoIP and effectively steer it over the most efficient route. Facilitating critical applications through reliable, high performance connections can help IT teams reduce packet loss and latency issues, improving employee productivity.

Increased Security Risks

As more devices are deployed across corporate networks, security perimeters are widened. This has increased organisations’ potential attack surfaces and the potential for hackers to launch successful cyber-attacks.

How SD-WAN Resolves the Challenge

Built using next generation firewall technology, organisations can access security functionality through SD-WAN without deploying more equipment. This enables them to deliver security to the network edge without deploying more hardware. As a result of this, hybrid workers receive the same level of security as they would in the corporate office.

Performance Issues and Lack of Flexibility

Significant performance issues as a result of low bandwidths have made it difficult for some remote users to carry on with day-to-day tasks they may have performed well in the office. Remote workers rely on services including VoIP and video conferencing. With the rise of hybrid working, this can put corporate networks under more stress where high-value activities are competing with day-to-day business requirements that would have been well-managed in the office networks. The hybrid workforce requires reliable, stable connectivity to maintain productivity levels across their workspaces.

In addition, with more devices connecting to corporate networks remotely, it’s important to make sure that the networks are scalable and flexible. Employees are also often reliant on being able to access networks to work collaboratively from multiple locations.

How SD-WAN Resolves the Challenge

SD-WAN also boosts access to cloud and SaaS applications as it helps to prioritise mission-critical cloud applications and optimise connectivity, which improves user experience by optimising cloud application performance. Using SD-WAN can increase network efficiency as overlay services are encrypted via all available WAN resources, allowing organisations to get the most from their connections by securing and controlling local access to application services.

Cloud-Based Applications

The increasing adoption of cloud-based applications has necessitated a more advanced, intelligent networking fabric. With traditional MPLS, several ‘hops’ are often needed between a user’s machine, the data centre, and the cloud-based application, and this inefficient routing can lead to performance issues when users access cloud-based applications.

How SD-WAN Resolves the Challenge

SD-WAN’s features provide functionality that optimises an organisation’s network and resolves remote working challenges. SD-WAN can prioritise access to cloud-based applications from home and office locations; whereas MPLS needs to back haul data via the data centre, SD-WAN delivers local site breakout regardless of location. This reduces hops, getting you to cloud apps quicker and easier. The outcome? Enhanced performance for your users.

Streamline Hybrid Working Through SD-WAN

With hybrid working set to become a fixture in our daily working lives, there’s a danger that traditional MPLS networking will be unable to keep up with our security and performance requirements. The answer, as we’ve explored in this blog, may well be SD-WAN.

At Six Degrees we deliver the UK’s only truly converged SD-WAN solution. Leveraging Six Degrees’ industry-leading expertise across security, hybrid cloud and network management, our SD-WAN services feature managed service tiers that can be tailored to your organisation’s unique requirements. Through intelligent design and next generation network capabilities, your SD-WAN deployment will form the backbone of your organisation’s hybrid working and digital transformation strategies.

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