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The connection between SD-WAN, UX & Digital Transformation

SD-WAN, UX & Digital transformation are all ‘Buzzwords’ in the industry at the moment but why? What is the connection between the three and why should you be reviewing their place in your business?

You’re well aware of Digital Transformation. According to Citrix in 2018, 29% of IT Decision making was based on digital transformation initiatives and this number has only grown. A positive user experience (UX) is key, but how does that tie in with your company, and what is the impact if UX is sub-par?

Where does SD-WAN fit in to the puzzle?

The world is digital, so what? 

There are more users on the planet than ever before, and their technology consumption continues to grow exponentially. This tidal wave of hungry users drives the demand for innovation, with new technologies constantly overshadowing their predecessor. As a result, new capabilities and therefore new demands on the underlaying hardware, rises daily.

So what? Digitalisation itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but what happens when the demand on the aforementioned underlying technology rises? What happens if that underlying technology is not being maintained or refreshed to continue to meet the demands of the users? There is going to be a point when it becomes unsustainable.

As organisations desperately try to keep up with the demand of digitalisation, they add extra resources but at the cost of increased complexity, reduced agility and the end result doesn’t solve the problem. Frequently, it’s only a ‘part time’ fix.

Due to this blind growth, visibility become scarce, making it very difficult to monitor or ensure application performance or security posture respectively. With users becoming more distributed and access to systems and data external to the WAN on rise, there are more ‘things’ connected to each other, adding to the challenge.

Users don’t care about legacy WAN

Although the demands on the networks are the highest they have been, and as we are aware, the underlaying technology is struggling to meet this demand; users acceptance of poor performance is dropping.

Why? They are used to it.

When users use technology for their leisure, for example social media, video streaming, Netflix etc, they get a seamless experience. Why would they expect anything less when using similar technology for work? The added problem is with a poor user experience, it will directly impact business performance as users will not be as productive.

Another point to consider is remote working. Working from home is on the rise, presenting challenges for a business in ensuring their workforce have the tools to do their job effectively. This move to remote working also presents complications for the users. In a recent survey, when asked what challenges are faced when working from home, communication and collaboration came out as number one but, the following three highest responses were all related to the remote working environment itself. All of them related to the mental impact of remote working such as loneliness, not being able to switch off and distractions as home. These results, when accumulated, accounted for 50% of challenges faced remote working.

Therefore, the impact of poor user experience when you have a remote workforce, might not only impact business performance, it could also exasperate an already strained workforce.

Where does SD-WAN fit in?

Essentially, SD-WAN provides the solution to the problem. As depicted in the graph below, the demands on the network and user expectations are on the rise. Conversely – visibility, application performance, and security posture are in decline.

A software-defined WAN uses software to control the connectivity, management and services between data centres, remote branches and the cloud; simplifying the management and operation of your network with a single fabric that connects on-premise, branch and cloud. This simplifies the overall management and operation of the network, giving a ‘single pane of glass’, visibility. This improvement in visibility means security and performance can be monitored, maintained and anomalies highlighted. Changes can be made quickly, allowing a business to be much more agile, while at its core, the network will be architected with business intent and performance and security will be front of mind, not an afterthought.

“SDN technologies also help in distributed locations that have few IT personnel on site, such as an enterprise branch office or service provider central office.

“Naturally these places require remote and centralised delivery of connectivity, visibility and security. SDN solutions that centralise and abstract control and automate workflows across many places in the network, and their devices, improve operational reliability, speed and experience,” 

Michael Bushong, vice president of enterprise and cloud marketing at Juniper Networks.

But do you need SD-WAN?

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