18 February 2019
Breaking New Frontiers: How Much Will SD-WAN Tech Save My Business?
If there’s one thing Australians are good at – even beyond our sporting prowess – it is using technology to overcome the challenge of distance. Right from the moment that Burke and Wills set out to cross the continent, generations have strived to connect our cities, communities and businesses. And while today’s explorers need a keyboard rather than a camel, the spirit of breaking new ground remains.
The workforce has changed drastically in the last decade. Increasingly mobile and technically savvy, workers are accustomed to having access to their world via their smartphone, tablet, or a host of portable devices. Cloud technology has smashed previous boundaries, but with business-critical applications running over the internet across multiple clouds, traditional WAN architecture cannot keep pace. Bogged in complexity and stretching the limits of bandwidth, how is the IT team to respond to business needs fast enough to remain competitive?
Enter the SD-WAN era
Many of the world’s largest IT vendors are investing heavily in SD-WAN technology, and this is great news for organisations of all sizes. The introduction of the NBN may have made faster internet affordable and available to many consumers, but most organisations have a greater demand for stability and consistency than it can deliver.
SD-WAN options vary, and traditionally, prices have been very high, running to several thousand dollars per month. They may be heavily dependent on a single communications provider. Our preference has always been to give customers the choice of being supplier agnostic where possible. Our customers take their pick of the best-suited technology from multiple vendors, using bonding technology that gives maximised throughput and very high reliability. The easy entry point, starting at $89 per month, signals a shift into affordable territory for businesses not wanting to splash unnecessary cash.
Serving multiple offices
Where SD-WAN really comes into its own is for organisations with multiple locations. It connects branch offices together with minimal fuss, all managed centrally. Suppose, for example, a retailer in Brisbane opens a new shop in Townsville. A device is sent to the new location, plugged in by a staff member – no IT skill needed – and everything is up-and-running almost immediately. It compresses information, even voice calls, to minimise bandwidth needed and keep costs down.
Where once, IT and phone systems would have required lengthy planning and a lot of frequent flyer points, critical technology can be plugged in, secure and ready to go. The predictable pay-as-you-go model also reduces the budgeting processes associated with capital expenses, keeping the accountants happy in the process.
Speed, Stability and Security
It is important that any business understands fully its dependence on IT. This is the starting point for any IT risk management assessment. The answers help to guide leaders to the right combination of speed and stability to match the business risk profile. In reality, few organisations can survive long without internet. Customer expectations are too high, and competition is too intense, to survive without email, phones, social media, and access to information or databases.
This is why a single provider solution is inadequate for most businesses. Even Telstra, known for reliability, experiences outages sometimes. Bonding technologies from a range of providers means that when one supplier experiences an outage, the business won’t even notice the difference as it seamlessly switches to another. In fact, one client ran failover for an entire day without noticing – in a situation where downtime could have been catastrophic. All their locations remained securely linked, and could operate as usual.
Australia’s pioneers couldn’t have dreamed that the process they set in motion would evolve, generation by generation, into the incredible technology we enjoy today. While times have changed, by introducing another generation of time-saving technology, we are able to enjoy the nation’s spirit of innovation live on.