Control Network Costs Between Offices With SD-WAN
SD-WAN technology provides end-to-end visibility of your wide area network.
Articles published January 21, 2021 by Bob Bally
Any organization with multiple office locations or branches understands the challenge of keeping employees connected to applications and resources so they can remain productive. These connections are often established through the use of a wide area network (WAN) solution. WAN solutions help prioritize access to applications and control the flow of data on your network.
An optimal WAN setup minimizes network costs while boosting productivity.
Traditional WAN technology connects local area networks (LANs) to each other using routers and virtual private networks (VPN). Traditional WAN setups rely on dedicated multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections to provide reliable network traffic flow. While this setup works well for some situations, traditional WAN can end up becoming quite costly as your business grows.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) continues to increase in popularity, as it provides a more cost-effective method of managing network traffic between data centers and remote branches or cloud instances. This ensures that employees can work effectively, regardless of location.
Drivers of Cost for Managing Branch Networks
Gartner defines total cost of ownership (TCO) as “a comprehensive assessment of information technology (IT) or other costs across enterprise boundaries over time.” According to Gartner, TCO typically includes costs related to hardware and software acquisition, management and support, communications, end-user expenses, and the opportunity cost of downtime and training.
Network management influences most, if not all, of the IT-related costs outlined in Gartner’s TCO definition. Following are some of the most common drivers of cost when connecting offices.
Hosted and Cloud-Based Applications
Spending on hosted and cloud-based applications continues to rise as organizations invest in software that allows employees to communicate between offices and better perform their jobs while working remotely. Salesforce, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Office 365 are all examples of widely used cloud-based applications that are accessible via a stable internet connection.
Hosted and cloud-based applications increase the volume of traffic that passes through the internet, straining traditional WAN architectures built predominantly upon MPLS circuits. As branch office employees use more of these applications, the WAN connections they rely on may require major hardware and infrastructure upgrades, which increase network costs.
Hardware Maintenance & Troubleshooting
Traditional WAN solutions require you to install a router in each office connected to your network that connects to another router within a central data center. Technicians must maintain routers on an individual basis across your offices or branches. This can be an expensive endeavor.
Additionally, when something goes wrong within a traditional WAN setup that spans across offices, it may take longer to troubleshoot the issue, which means productivity takes a hit.
Shortage of On-Site Expertise
Businesses with multiple offices or branches may not have dedicated IT staff at each location. Sending technicians to different offices costs money and can result in extended downtime. This also leaves less time for your in-house IT staff to work toward advancing business goals.
SD-WAN Helps Lower Network Costs and Downtime
SD-WAN gives you better control over your organization’s voice, video, and data traffic. It uses broadband in place of MPLS connections — where it makes sense — to lower your network costs. Broadband is a more cost-effective solution for increasing bandwidth and delivering data.
Following are some of the most impactful cost-saving benefits of SD-WAN.
Simplified Network Management
SD-WAN technology provides end-to-end visibility of your wide area network — using more cost-effective hardware in place of routers, such as x86 devices — and offers better connectivity and control. Unlike traditional WAN, which primarily relies on MPLS, SD-WAN uses a combination of MPLS and a reliable internet connection to more efficiently manage your network traffic.
Improved Access to Cloud Applications
Many traditional WAN solutions fail to account for the cloud-based application boom and the bandwidth that it requires. SD-WAN technology allows users to easily access SaaS applications on the cloud, such as Microsoft Office 365, through the use of cloud gateways instead of MPLS.
Reduced Network Downtime
SD-WAN technology can dynamically and intelligently route traffic over multiple circuits to improve efficiency. If there’s a circuit failure, an SD-WAN solution provides seamless packet by packet routing to keep you up and running. With little downtime, your organization and its employees can be more efficient and productive throughout the day. SD-WAN also offers application prioritization options that determine the best network link for sending data.
Harness the Power of SD-WAN
SD-WAN supports a mix of connection types, including MPLS, broadband, fiber, cloud gateways, 4G LTE, and 5G. This versatility allows you to develop the most resilient option for your business. However, it’s still all too easy to spend countless hours struggling to build a specialized system.
So when it comes to minimizing downtime and improving network accessibility for multiple office locations, partner with a managed IT services provider you can trust. Aureon can help you determine which network setup is right for you in a way that maximizes availability, connectivity and network security. This allows you and your in-house IT staff to concentrate on other pressing projects and priorities.
How much does your organization invest in network management? Are you looking for a solution that helps control those costs?