When the expressway ahead becomes gridlocked, do you accept the frustration of stop-and-go traffic? Or, do you take the next exit and dynamically navigate an alternate path to your desired destination? Today’s digital network can present similar challenges, but knowing you have an alternate route can save your business valuable time and money.
Every day, more enterprise-critical infrastructure, applications and data live “in the cloud.” As users and operators shift attention to digital destinations, it’s tempting to ignore the physical paths that enable those connections. In a software-defined network, does the physical network still matter?
The path defines the experience
Like the roads between your home and office matter to you, the physical network that connects customers to the virtual world still matters a great deal. The customer experience is directly impacted by the performance of the primary network path standing between users and the cloud-based content they need. Don’t overlook that it can be significantly impacted by the capabilities and expertise of the network service provider when the primary path suddenly becomes inaccessible.
When considering your wide-area network (WAN), it’s often the network segment closest to the customer that remains the weakest link in the chain. Reliable end-to-end connectivity is essential to delivering a superior experience, by getting “close to a customer,” requires network capacity and/or performance management are inhibitors rather than enablers. Whether driving collaboration across a distributed workforce or securely processing e-commerce transactions, . Beyond reliability, network performance becomes critical to ensuring a seamless end-user experience—that’s true for internal customers relying on UCaaS or enterprise resource planning systems and external customers streaming video, music and other latency-intolerant content. As the rate of SD-WAN adoption accelerates, the performance and reliability of the underlying physical network will only become more critical.
Improving diversity with software-defined networking
Software-defined networking (SDN) is often combined with diverse infrastructure to increase reliability. It also automatically and instantly delivers fail-over in response to an isolated outage or impairment within the core of a WAN. A provider that manages their own nationwide transport network to ensure optimal routing is a key aspect of delivering a great network experience. When it comes to the last mile, it is often impractical and uneconomical for a single service provider to build-out their own redundant facilities to connect all of an enterprise’s locations. For this vital component of the network, it is important to find a provider who has deep inter-connectivity with other providers and is able to solve the last mile with the broadest set of options available (including its own facilities for key locations). Software can’t save the day when a physical connection (be it fiber, copper or microwave) is unavailable.
The impact of the network service provider
Beware of the network service provider that relies on other providers and only delivers an overlay for your WAN connectivity. They have no direct control over what happens to your vital connections and when. Ultimately, those costs impact your recurring charges and profitability. Eliminate as many service provider hand-offs as possible and greatly improve network manageability, performance, customer experience and cost. Ideally, one provider will meet all your connectivity needs and provide more modern ways to manage your network and applications. Better yet, when you have visibility into your network via a “single pane of glass”, you’ll experience more efficient operations whether you opt for a fully-managed solution or do-it-yourself.
Enterprises can benefit greatly from having end-to-end connections with a single network service provider. Like a seasoned cabbie in a city unfamiliar to you, leveraging the network of the right provider will get you where want to go, even when your usual route is blocked.