Over the past few decades, the cloud has gone from a buzzword and symbol of the future to the backbone of the digital transformation. Now, virtually all organizations use the cloud in one way or another. This shift to the cloud is helping enterprises of all sizes engage with customers in new ways, scale their businesses, increase efficiencies, and adapt to the changing work environment.

The current health crisis has further accelerated this transition, with millions now working remotely and relying on cloud-based applications such as Zoom, 8X8, and Microsoft Teams to enable collaboration and productivity. Workers are logging on at varying times with different access methods, which requires more bandwidth.

For this transition to the cloud, many organizations previously relied on hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which enables a hybrid cloud approach. HCI allows enterprise to leverage most of the benefits of the public cloud while maintaining security, control, and flexibility.   

However, neither HCI nor the cloud addresses enterprise network performance. Access to data and applications are no longer confined to data centers or corporate headquarters but are moving to the cloud. Consequently, communications to the cloud through enterprise networks are getting overtaxed with traffic, are increasingly prone to congestion and failures, face constant security risks, and are unable to prioritize business-critical applications. 

In response, enterprises are turning to SD-WAN to assist with their transition to the cloud. Below are four ways SD-WAN helps eliminate network problems associated with this migration.

  • Multi-Cloud Access — According to CIO.com, on average, organizations use roughly five clouds.   This impacts the quality of experience since a service may have to access data or applications from multiple clouds. For instance, in a contact center, agents often access multiple cloud applications and data while communicating in real time with customers. There can be delayed information retrieval for the agent as the clouds are cross referenced to build out customer information, resulting  in a poor experience for the customer. SD-WAN acts as a traffic cop, directing application data from data centers and clouds to users. As data comes out of the clouds and connects to the enterprise data centers as well as end users and devices, SD-WAN helps ensure traffic navigates the network and cloud access correctly, which helps prevent delays.
  • Application Fluency — Each application within the cloud needs to communicate across the enterprise network in a manner that provides the highest quality of experience for the customer. However, not all cloud service data can be treated equally. For example, a file transfer coming from an ERP cloud has different requirements than a cloud collaboration service that is predominately voice and video. Being able to recognize and allocate bandwidth for critical traffic is especially critical when so many Americans are working remotely. Fortunately, SD-WAN is application-fluent, meaning it can classify traffic based on various characteristics such as data, voice, video, high priority, and low priority. This allows enterprises to be smarter about how applications navigate the network. For instance, rule groups can determine the treatment of various application data types, and each data packet is inserted with intelligence, enabling proper bandwidth and delivery. 
  • Failsafe Network Automation — The rise of everything digital has increased pressure on enterprise networks. At the same time, it has become too costly and impractical to only use dedicated MPLS connections given the current remote working environment. While an overlay broadband internet has become the norm for many enterprises, that network can be plagued with issues resulting in a negative experience for employees and customers. That’s where SD-WAN’s ability to self-drive and self-heal the network becomes critical. SD-WAN can dynamically adjust network traffic based on loss, jitter, latency, and congestion. The SD-WAN navigates every packet of data on the best path through the network given the current network conditions. Additionally, data packet replication, which may use cheap or unused bandwidth for reliable, carrier-grade, real-time communications, eliminates packet loss. From there, the receiving node then discards any duplicated packets to ensure the highest quality of experience.
  • Security — As the number of digital users, devices, clouds, and data centers increases, so does the possibility for cyberattacks. In fact, one survey found that 40% of companies reported seeing increased cyberattacks as they enabled remote working in March. Enterprise data must be treated with special care as it moves to connect users, devices, and clouds. SD-WAN helps protect data as it moves across the enterprise network by using multiple levels of data encryption, data replication, and firewalls.

Transitioning to the cloud should not cause a decrease in application performance. SD-WAN ensures enterprise networks are ready to meet the needs of this transition to the cloud and helps ensure reliability and quality of experience, helping companies maximize their digital transformation investments while delivering better service to customers and employees.