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Australian leadership in SD-WAN

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Davin Gibb, Cisco’s enterprise routing sales leader in the Asia Pacific market, answers questions on the Australian status of SD-WAN

How does the state of the SD-WAN market in Australia compare to others in the APAC region?

Australian corporations have traditionally been on the forefront of technology adoption as it relates to business benefits, and the adoption of SD-WAN and future state SD-Branch architectures are no exception. In the context of APAC, Australia continues to be a leader within the region, through its pace of change and agility to adopt new technologies.

Australia remains a large and unique opportunity for organisations looking to accelerate and derive more value out of their WAN environment due to its relatively sparse land population and geographical size.


What unique challenges do you find that enterprises with large footprints in Australia are facing?

There is certainly a mix of common challenges and then challenges unique to the market and/or vertical. However, there would be three common challenges that have arisen based on the position Australian organisations are in.

Visibility – Australian organisations have been world leaders per capita in adoption and implementation of cloud-based solutions and assets. Some of this has been deliberate and visible to IT departments, some has not. The need for IT organisations to understand the current application performance, and locations are critical for maintaining a quality application experience.

Operational efficiency – Given Australia’s higher costs of labour and services within the APAC region, any solution that changes the operating model through automation across all aspects of the lifecycle of a WAN architecture resonates. SD-WAN also allows more efficient use of last-mile bandwidth by seamlessly allowing for the most efficient exit path, thereby empowering an organisation to make clear business decisions on the criticality of the application and the priority of link it should mandate.

Security – Concerns regarding security and integrity are certainly not unique to Australian businesses, but the Australian workforce is highly mobile, and continues to lead progressive employer terms around remote working and teleworking. This has put the concerns of data and data loss prevention top of mind, especially due to the digital transformations and cloud adoption agendas that all organisations are embarking on.


What are the most common misconceptions that you still encounter with end users when it comes to SD-WAN?

SD-WAN and related SD-Branch solutions are in rapid development and innovation, and to assume that any portfolio is static in its value offering is a common misconception. New features and technology are constantly being released which builds upon previous SD-WAN value pillars and enables organisations to extend efficiencies, performance, security and visibility.

Education and awareness of the value that SD-WAN offers organisations are still needed, as a lot of headlining content has made the customer base aware of potential savings in telco expenditure, but hasn’t communicated effectively the opportunity of operational efficiency, visibility and security far beyond a singular cost metric.


How does Cisco differentiate its offerings from the competition?

Cisco differentiates primarily on three fronts.

Router and CPE selection – Cisco offers a wide portfolio of SD-WAN capable devices that allow organisations choice. From Enterprise SD-Branch capable Cisco ISR4000 series and ISR1100 series through to uCPE with ENCS family and finally VNF support with the virtual SD-WAN software images. Cisco also offers investment protection for customers who have already deployed the Cisco ISR4000 series, via a software upgrade they can unlock the value that Cisco SD-WAN provides to organisations.

Security – Cisco has brought together the power of our leading security technology – seen in our firewall and cloud security offers – into the SD-WAN portfolio. Taking this experience and development and bolstering the security capabilities of the SD-WAN portfolio, whilst seamlessly allowing policy management and orchestration through a central dashboard is powerful value for enterprises looking to not only implement SD-WAN efficiently but also enhance and distribute their security footprint at the same time. Bringing UTM functionality backed by our global real-time threat intelligence feed through Talos into Cisco SD-WAN gives customers the assurance they need to maximise the value that Cisco SD-WAN can provide.

End-to-end multi-domain policy – Through the developments in automation and orchestration Cisco is tying together a common enterprise policy across multiple domains of IT infrastructure, allowing for tremendous efficiencies in management but also strengthening end to end security. Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) will allow organisations to seamlessly connect their access network (consisting of both wired and wireless Cisco infrastructure) with the Cisco SD-WAN architecture (allowing unique secure groups and device segments) through to the data centre with Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI), where these centrally authored policies can terminate at a physical server or application. All of this is built on top of pervasive security capabilities in every device whether at the edge, core or cloud.


Any predictions yet on what impact 5G will have on WAN designs?

Australia is likely to lead the region in quality 5G infrastructure that will go beyond consumer device value. Enterprise office and branch locations will be able to capture a viable primary path with cellular backhaul for time to market provisioning, mobility and redundancy. This is going to lead to more and more branches and offices having multiple last mile connections, not just in a traditional active/standby design but multiple active connections, with real time performance monitoring and load balancing. Indeed Cisco SD-WAN and our portfolio of end points have been built with transitions like this in mind.

A lot of encouraging developments in 5G will also allow organisations to extend their enterprise policy into the cellular domain, which is extremely valuable for companies who are highly mobile and/or remote.