Digital transformation initiatives are spreading from headquarters out to branch locations in most enterprises pursuing innovation. Software as a service (SaaS) enables branch locations to reduce costs while improving collaboration and operational efficiency.
In order to support cloud-based solutions, branches also need the corresponding infrastructure upgrades to meet the bandwidth requirements of the SaaS tools they’re accessing. Performance, reliability, security, and speed are all considerations that need to be addressed when adopting digital transformation measures at the branch level.
Most branches are likely to be utilizing multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) links to handle network traffic, but the hub-and-spoke design that these traditional network infrastructures use isn’t ideal for the amount of data being transmitted for cloud solutions. All traffic must be backhauled to the data center before it goes out to the cloud solution in this traditional model, causing congestion on the network. The high bandwidth demands of SaaS also exposes the high cost of using MPLS alone.
Part of the digital transformation for branches should include an upgrade to the network infrastructure. Increasingly, this means a transition to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). With SD-WAN, a virtual layer is added to the physical network, and enterprises have the benefit of being vendor agnostic. This means they can access a variety of link types from MPLS to broadband internet.
Branch locations brought into the SD-WAN infrastructure can be configured and provisioned from headquarters by simply plugging in a controller at the branch location. The branch is online within minutes. In order for this investment to be successful, there are a few requirements that need to be met by the SD-WAN solution:
Security: Many SD-WAN solutions do not offer integrated security with the rest of the environment. Look for a product that includes end-to-end encryption and next-generation firewalls as part of a range of features for protecting direct internet access. It should also include threat detection and sandboxing technology.
Application Awareness: The SD-WAN solution should be able to identify and categorize applications from the first data packet transmitted. It should be able to differentiate between thousands of applications on the network.
Visibility and Control: The nature of SaaS solutions is that any employee can easily deploy them, but IT needs to ensure that there are controls in place on the network that prevent Shadow IT from becoming a problem. A high level of visibility and control ensures that only IT-approved solutions are being added to the network.
Compliance Support: A crucial element of any digital transformation initiative is an awareness of regulation and compliance influence. The SD-WAN solution you choose should have extensive tracking and reporting for compliance purposes in order to reduce the risk of penalties and fines.
At One Connect, we help you identify the best solutions for your digital transformation objectives, while proactively considering how each change will affect your branch locations and your overall IT infrastructure. To continue the conversation, contact us today.