SD-WAN to play key role in enterprise transformation

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SD-WAN could play a key role in helping enterprises continue their business transformation journeys, the WAN Summit conference in Singapore heard from several speakers.

The event, which took place in the Asian city-state in September, looked at the rapidly growing software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) market in the Asia and Asia Pacific region.

The keynote presentation, given by Orange Business Services, looked at how businesses were adopting SD-WAN either as a managed or as a hybrid.

Laurent Perrin, director of application driven network, said: “SD-WAN is the right way to help businesses through their transformation because it brings flexibility and agility.

“Our customers point to agility, to the ability to adjust the network, with many driven by business transformation. We are moving from a fully managed model to a more flexible model with more visibility. Why visibility? Because the network is carrying more and more traffic, with some of it no longer managed directly by IT or network managers but by specific business divisions directly. So we need to move to a more end-user focussed structure.”

He gave an example case study of an international enterprise OBS had worked with to transform its network: German manufacturer Siemens.

Siemens, he explained, was looking for a more flexible infrastructure to cover its 1,500 sites which span more than 94 countries. So Orange looked at virtualisation, Perrin added.

He added: “Siemens – an example of a customer sourcing all of their services from one provider. We have been contracted to transfer their network from a full MPLS to SD-WAN, They want different types of access, to reinforce security.”

He was joined on stage by his colleague James Soo, who reminded the packed conference hall that SD-WAN is itself just “a concept, not a standard”. This means enterprises have many different vendors and options and each “have a different kind of flavour”.

So how does OBS tackle this? Soo explained: “The first is trying to understand your data: how you use it, what your data is, and where you expect to see it in the next six months. So do your due diligence, and then look at doing a proof of concept to help you understand how SD-WAN can actually work in a real-time environment.

“Then begins the transformation – do you want to do this across your sites, or only at a limited number? This means piloting different site profiles and a close engagement with technology partner. Find transformation milestones and set expectations.

“The beauty of SD-WAN is that using policies we can tweak and adapt your network as new applications come on board.”