SD-WAN: Making networks work for the public sector
Riverbed's Senior Technical Director, Paul Griffiths, explains the potential of software defined networking in meeting public service business priorities
Data networks are a crucial element in a public authority’s efforts to meet its business priorities, being at the heart of the information infrastructure and support staff’s ability to work smarter.
But the landscape is changing. As public authorities make increasing use of mobile technology, and move data through public networks and those of their partners, networks are taking on a more hybrid nature. Maintaining their strength and flexibility is becoming more complex and time consuming.
But there is a way forward in the adoption of 'SD-WAN', or software defined wide area networking.
A gathering of network specialists looked closely at the issues at a recent round table staged by Riverbed and UKAuthority, and came up with a clutch of insights that suggest the time is ripe for the adoption of SD-WAN.
They can be summarised as follows:
- Networks have not kept pace as everything else in the IT space has evolved over the past 10 years, undermining efforts to get the best from software and digital communications tools.
- The need for high levels of security is stronger than ever.
- Organisations are becoming more demanding of their networks’ performance, wanting fast delivery of business applications; consistency in moving data quickly; and 100% availability.
- The ability to foresee problems in network traffic can be a major asset.
- Authorities in rural areas face a tougher challenge, having to deliver business applications through a limited broadband infrastructure and patchy mobile networks.
SD-WAN can do much to respond to these challenges. It extends the principles of software defined networking – an increasingly popular approach to managing the infrastructure – to the management of a wide area network, one which connects with partners’ and public infrastructure, to provide maximum flexibility in the flow of data.
In short, it involves network administrators using the software to define the priorities for data traffic – taking account of security and the criticality of different types of data – and recognises that the new generation of wide networks has many more components and moving parts than their predecessors.
Yes, it is a technical solution, but it can make a major contribution to meeting business priorities:
- Cutting costs, with fewer man hours needed for routine management.
- Raising the performance of business applications, thereby improving the standards of service delivery.
- Providing flexibility for staff to work from any site, through the networks of partners, public Wi-Fi and mobile networks.
- Security, ensuring the integrity of data used in business applications.
- Improved decision making, aided by the reliable supply of crucial information, even in real time.
- Innovation, with the instantaneous provision of data providing scope for the development of new solutions.
- Collaboration, with the management and prioritisation of business critical data.
It all amounts to a potential that is about more than the infrastructure, providing a foundation to raise the business capabilities of a public authority.
“SD-WAN for me is a about using technology as an enabler, and for the public sector it will have a massive impact on what connectivity organisations can buy,” was one of the comments at the round table.
If you would like to learn more about the potential of SD-WAN you can register for a free trial here or download the briefing note, 'Making Networks Work for the Public Sector', via the form below: