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IT under siege: How SD-WAN technology can help

A company's IT department deals with a range of important needs and requirements on a daily basis. These can be as simple as answering an employee's question about a new application, or as complex as establishing a new virtual environment for the business's intellectual property. Whatever the task, IT is an indispensable part of a corporation, particularly when it comes to managing and maintaining the corporate network.

When it comes to the IT team's activities, there are a few common demands and pain points that come up in nearly every size organisation across almost all industries. These can complicate matters for IT workers, effectively putting them under a siege that can be difficult to recover from if the right skills and tools aren't in place. Luckily, SD-WAN technology, which is becoming increasingly common in every industrial sector, can help address and solve these prevalent issues.

Let's take a look at the top demands the IT team deals with, and how the right SD-WAN solution can deliver major benefits in these situations:

Problem: The rise of cloud and real-time network traffic

By now, the cloud is a staple of many companies' IT infrastructure. However, this doesn't mean that the cloud isn't still putting pressure on IT teams' processes, with the main concerns being the fast-paced rise of these apps, as well as admins' ability to maintain visibility and control.

According to a 2016 study from Research and Markets, the cloud collaboration market -- which encompasses real-time and interactive applications -- will continue to expand over the coming years, reaching an eventual value of $42.57bn (£30bn) by 2021. While these types of programmes can provide considerable advantages, such as immediate access to the most recent data and details, as well as the ability to collaborate amongst employees, clients and partners, this considerable expansion of cloud and real-time traffic does present challenges.

Without proper management, the rise of the cloud could lead to shadow IT, where technology managers are unaware of the multitude of unapproved applications being used by many throughout the company. Real-time and interactive applications require a high level of visibility, which today's businesses simply cannot operate without.

Thankfully, an SD-WAN can offer an unmatched level of visibility into all types of network traffic, cloud, and real-time applications included. In this way, IT admins can get the complete picture of network activity, ensuring that they don't lose control of their assets as the company's cloud infrastructure continues to expand.

Problem: Infrastructure can't keep up with expanding traffic

Cloud and real-time apps aren't the only factors contributing to increased network traffic. Additional platforms and systems alongside big data and analytics initiatives are expanding corporate information as well. Gartner estimates that data being produced by enterprise networks was on track to double every three years. This data explosion is creating considerable difficulties for corporate IT teams.

Worse still, when existing infrastructure can't keep up with this level of data growth, application performance suffers. This can put pressure on an already bandwidth-constrained network, dragging performance down with it. Thankfully, this is another area in which SD-WAN technology is invaluable.

Here, an SD-WAN can ensure that the data and network activity associated with critical applications and processes is prioritised over other types of traffic.

In this way, specifically identified data packets take the best possible path across the network, preventing infrastructure from being bogged down by the sheer amount of information. In the current age of big data analytics, this type of control and visibility is absolutely essential.

Problem: The network can't deliver a high-quality user experience

In spite of growing cloud and real-time traffic as well as expanding data repositories, IT teams must ensure that critical applications and assets still function as they should at all times. This translates to responsive applications that load quickly and provide immediate access to information, as well as VoIP and video conference calls that are crystal clear and free of voice and picture delay.

In order to deliver this high-quality user experience, IT departments need a tool that can measure and provide visibility into critical metrics including latency, jitter and packet loss. These factors can specifically influence application and communication performance, causing a drop in responsiveness as well as an increase in delay.

An SD-WAN solution doesn't just measure network paths for dropped packets and availability -- it also leverages this knowledge to select the very best path for each and every data packet, prioritising items as necessary. This means that the SD-WAN will direct critical traffic like that associated with real-time applications or VoIP calls to the most optimal network path, thereby supporting peak performance and a beneficial end user experience.

Problem: IT is having trouble meeting budget and other goals

IT teams also deal with moving targets when it comes to the business's budget. As they work to deliver the best performance and experience for employees, IT admins must ensure that these processes take place without exceeding spending goals.

An SD-WAN can be of real help in these situations, as well. Not only does it show strong ROI, but this type of solution can also help businesses better manage their connectivity costs by making use of every available network connection. With an SD-WAN in place, lines that were previously only used for backup can be leveraged for traffic prioritisation, supporting top-notch technology performance while preventing critical links from going unused.

Overall, an SD-WAN has a multitude of benefits for IT teams in every industry. This technology helps staff members gain visibility, better manage available assets, support performance and guarantee a high-quality user experience.

Alex Ratcliffe, Chief Solutions Architect, Talari Networks