Networks – The Last IT Wilderness?

As more and more organisations embark on digital transformation journeys in 2019, they’ll be leveraging technology and processes that will change their businesses. Ian Hunter travelled to Newbury to attend a Vodafone round table discussing the role SDN will play in supporting the business transformation agenda.

The rapid proliferation of cloud services and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications is leading the organisations to rethink their traditional hardware based approach to networking with the shift to the cloud placing more importance on software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN).

Key Soundbites:

Clearly it is hard to fully report a lengthy round table discussion in the space available so here’s my top quotes and takeaways.

According to Scott Petty, CTO at Vodafone, “This is an exciting time. The move to the cloud is a fundamental shift; the control of the network needs to shift and SD-WAN will deliver a change from a static to a dynamic and virtualised network.”

Peter Terry-Brown, Business Unit Director, Connectivity & Unified Communications at Vodafone, “SDN does not create a digital business but it does increase business agility and network availability.”

Anne Sheehan, UK Enterprise Director at Vodafone, “With SDN, users can dynamically control the network themselves. User will get far greater insight in to how their applications are working. Most organisations have a cloud first strategy but it is only now, with SDN, that networks are starting to catch up and shift from being connectivity led to applications led.”

Wider Perspective:

Zscaler, the global cloud-based information security company, recently wrote to me, in the context of SDN networks, saying that the ability to evolve and adapt is critical to any organisation’s survival.

“As SD-WAN facilitates this transition (to the cloud) cost-effectively, Zscaler believes we’ll see demand for SD-WAN climb significantly in 2019 as a result, as hardware disappears from the enterprise. As SD-WAN, however, addresses mainly the network aspects and not the security part of this equation, enterprises are well advised to look for a modernisation of their network design that includes the security aspects for a lean administration point of view.”

Takeaways:
• Legacy WANs cannot remain the way they are.
• Service wraps are key and SD-WAN agility with change network dynamics.
• MPLS networks are trusted!
• It will be interesting to watch service providers challenge incumbent providers.
• Winners in the market will those suppliers that rally listed to their customers.
• All organisations face disruption and technical leaders need to enable their business to move ahead.

Ed Says…

SD-WAN enables enterprises to transition from hub-and-spoke network topology to a direct-to-internet architecture. It simplifies how traffic is routed in the branch and enables improved connectivity to the internet, cloud applications, and the data centre. These improvements are increasingly important, as networks are reconfigured to enable greater mobility in response to user demands.

Security issues for SD-WANs were discussed at the round table and it would be a big mistake not to consider adopting SD-WAN due to security concerns.

Opengear, the network management provider makes a valid point here when they point out that SD-WAN technology is the convergence of trusted VPN, data compression, and traffic management technologies all wrapped in slick cloud-based provisioning and that therefore security considerations have been a natural part of the technology’s evolution.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine