If you’re not already well-acquainted with my recommendations regarding advanced retail networking, it all boils down to this: Any multi-store retailer not already moving to software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) has some serious catching up to do.
That’s actually true of pretty much every distributed enterprise. The rapid growth in data, apps, and connected “things” all contribute to an escalating thirst for bandwidth to carry traffic destined for the Internet and public clouds.
The entire networking industry is gearing up; DC FutureScape estimates that 60% to 70% of all software, services, and tech spend will be cloud-based by 2020. Yet traditional networks were designed for much simpler demands, connecting to the Internet at headquarters or data center locations through a centralized firewall. Traditional connectivity options can’t handle today’s bandwidth explosion, and centralized firewalls can’t avoid congestion in the face of such new demands.
All of this puts unprecedented stress on the WAN. Consider:
Virtually every new technology is created to solve a problem that can no longer be satisfied by older technologies. And every new technology that succeeds in going mainstream does so by proving its ability to satisfy emerging needs in full. That is certainly the case with SD-WAN.
IDC estimates that sales of SD-WAN equipment grew from just $225 million in 2015 to $1.19 billion in 2017, and should reach more than $8 billion by 2021. The reason for such explosive growth: Enterprises are switching to SD-WAN “to resolve challenges created by increasing cloud, mobile, big data and analytics traffic.”
SD-WAN’s success in resolving those challenges stems from three core advantages over traditional connections:
In addition to those inherent advantages, SD-WAN serves as a platform for other network services such as UCaaS (unified communications as a service); managed network security; and secure, private, dedicated access to cloud service providers, offering a direct connection for payment card processing.
The unique needs of retail
While enterprises in general benefit from the shift to SD-WAN, retail faces several unique dynamics that make adoption especially imperative.
Every retail executive is acutely aware that continuing to do what we’ve always done will no longer do. We’ve seen so many storied brands fade, passed up by more forward‑looking retailers committed to getting ahead of the curve.
Those who succeed do so for a variety of reasons, as no two retail enterprises are exactly the same. But nearly all retailers who are succeeding in the transformation have one thing in common: They embrace advanced networking and all that it enables. If you’re not quite there yet, there’s still time to catch up.
Greg Griffiths is Vice President of Marketing for Windstream, where he's responsible for driving the company's digital, brand, demand, channel, content, alliances, vertical and product marketing initiatives and strategy. Greg was previously VP of Marketing for EarthLink prior to their merger with Windstream, as well as VP of Marketing for New Edge Networks where he drove the company's strategic focus on retail; a practice he continues to lead at Windstream. Griffiths previously held executive positions with Eschelon Telecom and Enhanced Telemanagement. He is a graduate of Washington State University with a degree in marketing and has served as an adjunct instructor.
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