Why are we even talking about traditional networks anymore?

By James Booker, Specialist Sales Engineering Manager, Virgin Media Business

Before Covid-19 invited itself into our lives, IT leaders were already losing sleep over network performance and efficiency.

In March 2020 those networks were pushed to their limit. Beyond their limit, in many cases. Almost overnight.

With hundreds, thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people trying to log on remotely at once, a lot of organisations found their IT infrastructure couldn’t cope.

Many have been forced into big, expensive upgrades just to make their remote technology useable.  

Frankly, ‘useable’ isn’t good enough. And it’s become clearer than ever that traditional networks like IPVPN are no longer fit for purpose.

In this article I’m going to explore why that is, and how a modern network like SD-WAN can help you achieve massive improvements in performance and efficiency the second you switch it on.

How did we get here?

I’ve previously talked about how the networks most organisations use haven’t changed all that much since the nineties.

But everything around them has, even more so in the past few months.

We’re no longer sat in our Dilbert cubicles, using the same handful of apps every day, on the same desktop computer.

Your staff now work all over the place. And they need to collaborate with each other and your customers using any number of different systems and applications – some of them hosted on-premise, some in the cloud.

And therein lies the problem…

Organisations are consuming more and more content from multiple software vendors, often stored in the vendor’s own cloud environment.

With so many different streams of data being hauled in so many different directions, what happens to those massive, complex legacy networks?

In effect: they grind to a halt. 

Moving your workplace technology to the cloud has long been touted as a way to achieve greater performance and efficiency.

But here’s the harsh reality: without the underlying infrastructure to support that technology, you’re not going to see those improvements.

In fact, things might go the opposite way, because the network you’re using to access those new tools simply can’t keep up.

The SD-WAN effect

So how does SD-WAN allow you to move that data around more efficiently?

For a start, you don’t need to move your data as far. Or through nearly as many places. You can break traffic out locally and steer it directly to where it needs to be, bypassing a big chunk of your network in the process.

Where we’ve moved our own customers from IPVPN to SD-WAN, we’ve seen a massive improvement in network response time as a result.

40%, in some cases.

Let me just put that figure into context.

If it usually takes me five minutes to open an application, and now it takes me three minutes, that’s two whole minutes of productivity that I didn’t have before.

Sure, that might not seem like much.

But multiply that by thousands of staff and multiple different apps across a whole financial year, and suddenly it feels quite powerful.

And it doesn’t stop there.

We’ve seen plenty of other measurable performance and efficiency improvements when switching an organisation to SD-WAN:

Increased bandwidth efficiency, a reduction in failover times between connections, a smaller hardware footprint and improvements in network throughout, to name a few.

The bandwidth efficiency point is particularly relevant here.

Because SD-WAN allows you to prioritise and redirect data flows in an automated way, you can easily account for any rapid changes in bandwidth consumption – like, say, all your staff suddenly having to work from home and use remote collaboration tools all day.

So rather than having to ask your connectivity provider for more bandwidth, you can make better use of the bandwidth you already have by optimising the way your organisation uses data.

Why does all this matter now?

When you look at some of the figures above, it’s clear that this isn’t just about improving the performance of your network.

The impact those improvements have is the where the real value lies.

When your network performs well, your employees can spend less time swearing at their laptop and more time doing their job.

They’ll be more productive, more engaged and more likely to give your customers a positive experience – wherever they happen to be and whatever device or applications they happen to be using.

Can you honestly say the same for your traditional network?

Still not sure SD-WAN is the answer? Take out a WAN audit with our specialist team. We’ll refund the cost in full if you do go ahead. And to give your bottom line an extra boost on us, you’ll only pay IPVPN prices for SD-WAN.

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