We’re used to seeing revolutions in technology. Unified communications revolutionised how we use voice and video. The cloud revolutionised how we deliver applications. While the Internet of Things revolutionised how we connect, manage and map our devices.
There’s one major technology, however, that’s long overdue an overhaul: the enterprise network. Mired in complexity, expensive to run, slow to adapt – it’s been hampering innovation, not enabling it.
Thankfully, that’s all changing with the software-defined network (SDN), which is revolutionising the WAN.
According to a new report by research company, Information Services Group, SDN is the biggest change to the networking and telecommunications industry in the last 30 years.
SDN won’t just revolutionise how our customers do business – it’s crucial to Vodafone’s future too.
We’re looking to SDN to provide the intelligence, agility and security needed to deliver all the benefits of our 5G network. Things like supporting super-fast 1Gbs mobile broadband services, handling the surge in IoT-connected devices across the enterprise, and providing the low latency demanded by virtual reality and augmented reality applications.
In short, SDN is the network built for cloud-based, digital business.
What’s so special about SDN?
SDN solves many of the problems associated with hardware-based networking environments.
With these traditional networks, each element – like a core switch or router – has to be configured manually to do a certain task. All this takes time, and you’re dependent on IT specialists.
With SDN, the network is configured centrally, which means changes can be automated and made in real time, in response to new business and application demands.
We’re already seeing how SDN technology is enabling new solutions.
For example, SD-WAN, is an ‘overlay’ virtual solution that’s placed over your existing WAN or IP-VPN (your ‘underlying’ network).
By placing a universal CPE device at each of your sites, SD-WAN creates secure encrypted ‘tunnels’ across the internet, connecting your devices.
This connectivity brings intelligence to your network, giving you immediate visibility and control of your traffic. And you can be up and running in days – no specialist engineers, no disruption to your underlying network.
The big-five SDN benefits
Visibility: SDN gives you a single, real-time view of your whole network so you’re always in the know.
Cost: SDN reduces the management burden with new levels of network automation and control – and enables least-cost routing.
Control: SDN enables centralised control of your network, based on policies you define.
Flexibility: SDN lets you respond rapidly to business and application demands, provisioning bandwidth and new capabilities to your network on demand.
Security: the virtual network environment enables you to thwart threats, across all sites, devices and the cloud.
The power to self-manage your network
Traditionally, network management has been an all-or-nothing affair. Either you have a managed service, submitting a change request that’s actioned within the SLA. Or you take total ownership of your WAN, and are responsible for configuration, security, everything.
With SD-WAN, you get the best of both worlds.
You have the power to make the changes that have an immediate business impact – such as prioritising bandwidth for your critical apps, or launching new services with zero-touch provisioning – but can leave your service provider to take care of more functional matters.
Crucially, this self-management doesn’t require specialist knowledge. With SD-WAN, you can manage your network in a dynamic way, on demand, with all the simplicity of the cloud.
And the good news: these revolutionary benefits can be achieved without the need to rip and replace your existing environment.
So we say Viva La Revolution.
Want to learn more about what SDN can do for your business? You’ll find everything you need here