The importance of the connected business in a digital world has resulted in organisations reprioritising how they view and manage data.

By Binesh George, CEO of Redvine Networks

Fundamental to this is how companies link their systems to that of the cloud provider or even their branches spread across the country or the continent.

To this end, traditional networking is no longer good enough. Rather, software defined everything (SDx) is becoming the focal point.

The disruption brought about by this [SDx] to data centres and platforms is significant. In many respects, this centres around the evolution of WAN (wide area network) technologies into that of the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN).

Yes, it is about transferring the features of the old technology into the new without inheriting any of the traditional limitations. But SDx (in part through the SD-WAN) is also about the local area network, firewalling, security, and people’s attitudes towards networking in terms of software, hardware, and applications.

Previously, one required dedicated hardware applications with specialised assets for networking. But thanks to SDx, companies can now use processor-based computing to perform networking tasks that used to rely on dedicated chipsets.

Of course, the new technology also brings with it the advanced features that people did not have access to before. Think about the likes of automated rooting, machine learning, and even artificial intelligence that is now possible through SDx.

We are always striving to approach the point where the network can be seamless and run itself.

Future investment

Those cynical about the benefits of embracing SDx and SD-WAN as a business approach must understand it is the new standard of doing things. Even companies who only have a single branch is still considered a multi-site environment given their connectivity to the cloud.

And irrespective of their focus area, company size, or industry sector, the network will always be relevant. For those smaller organisations without the resources (in staff and equipment) of their larger counterparts, SD-WAN comes into its own.

It brings an agility previously only accessible to the richest organisations. Gone is the cookie-cutter approach of the past. Today, the network is something that can be completely customised according to organisational requirements.

Thanks to SDx and SD-WAN, the network now fits the business and not the other way around.

Making the transition

But before the transition can be made, decision-makers must understand their network operations before being fully able to leverage the new technology.

They must be cognisant of how much their running costs are when it comes to routers, firewalls, and the associated network infrastructure. Also, what is the return on investment they are currently getting as opposed to the potential of transitioning to an SDx environment?

Part of this is to gain an understanding of not only the cost implications of outages, but also risk exposure of remaining on the old technology versus migrating to a new environment. All this points to how much the business is prepared to evolve with technology or risk falling behind.

Overcoming limitations

If these questions are not addressed, customers do not have the insights required on how their networks are operating. This lack of operational understanding of what is in their environment requires a learning phase before deploying the likes of an SD-WAN.

Change management becomes a significant challenge as there are those organisations who feel comfortable in the status quo and are unwilling to adapt to new data centre requirements.

But if they are to remain relevant in a world where data access and connectivity are fundamental to success, they must move out of their comfort zones and embrace the new way of networking.