Digital applications have become a critical component of a business’s image and reputation. As more customers interact with online systems, application outages or impairments are more than just a black eye—missed opportunities, abandoned shopping carts and customer attrition all have a direct negative impact on the bottom line.
Once upon a time, MPLS-based networks were innovative solutions that enabled progress in an emerging digital world. Nearly a quarter century later, that same technology has been deemed “legacy” because it has become an inhibitor to future success. Limitations may include bandwidth restrictions, costly access, limited visibility and a lack of redundancy. Fundamentally, MPLS-based WANs of yore were designed to support a handful of critical enterprise applications that were tethered to dependent data in a corporate data center. MPLS-based WANs are not optimized for a cloud-based world in which customer experience is defined by the voracious consumption of big data via small apps, anywhere, anytime, on any device.
The WAN is the critical resource to deliver an experience that external customers expect and that internal users demand. Top five concerns from a recent IDG “State of the CIO” survey included three initiatives that can be either directly enabled—or inhibited—by the capabilities of the WAN:
Modernizing legacy systems
Virtualizing an ecosystem with software-defined infrastructure enables assets to be pooled and optimized. Automatic load balancing ensures that traffic flows and workloads are dynamically and appropriately prioritized to continuously meet high expectations for the customer experience. No one will notice a few seconds of delay in an hours-long process for generating monthly invoices; everyone will notice any delay in completing a transaction in a familiar app. An SD-WAN simply performs well in ways that were never even envisioned for MPLS-based networks.
Migrating apps to the cloud
By 2020, 83% of workloads will be run in the cloud, according to LogicMonitor’s “Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study.” As customers and users continue to become more geographically dispersed in relation to the applications and data that are required to create their experience, the availability and performance of the WAN only becomes more critical. Without a WAN designed for a digital world, a poor customer experience will fail to win new customers and will drive existing customers to competitors.
Unfortunately, the digital world can be a dangerous one. Nearly 20% of all security breaches begin with a network intrusion, according to IBM’s recent “X-Force Threat Intelligence” study. Securing data at rest and in transit is essential, especially personally identifiable information (PII). The inherent complexity of legacy WANs makes them both challenging and costly to manage securely.
SD-WAN: A flexible solution for an inflexible world
Legacy infrastructure is deeply embedded. Customer experience expectations are high. Security threats are multiplying. In the face of these unyielding constraints, SD-WAN provides a peaceful path for an evolution—as opposed to a painful revolution.
Fortunately, an SD-WAN can often be deployed “over the top” of existing infrastructure. Abstracting hardware and network resources as software “components,” via software‑defined networking, can add flexibility and manageability, while maximizing the ROI on existing assets. There is no need for a “big bang” rip-and-replace project. SD‑WAN can be added to an existing ecosystem, on a site-by-site basis and with no service interruptions, all at a pace that makes sense in terms of both the financial and human resources available.
SD-WAN can help support better application performance and enhance your customer experience. Wherever your organization may be with modernizing your WAN, Windstream Enterprise can help guide you in the right direction. To learn more about successfully transforming your application availability and performance, check out this whitepaper: Support successful business transformation with application availability and performance.
Art Nichols is the Vice President of Architecture and Technology at Windstream where he is responsible for network evolution, hardware and software certification, and technical product development for all business units in the organization. Nichols came to Windstream in 2010 through the NuVox Communications acquisition where he oversaw the network architecture and played a key role in the launch of the company’s flagship VoIP and converged access product. While at Windstream, Nichols has been instrumental in developing numerous products including IPTV, Cloud Security, SD-WAN, as well as advancing the evolution of the company’s broadband, packet optical, and SDN-enabled network. Nichols is a graduate of Clemson University where he holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management.
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