A McKinsey Global Survey of October 2020 found that during the pandemic, companies accelerated the digitization of their in-house operations by three to four years, while the share of digital or digitally activated products accelerated in their portfolios by a staggering seven years. In fact, a phrase you are likely to encounter at every turn in the business world is ‘digital transformation’. Gartner estimates that by 2021, businesses are likely to spend $ 4.1 billion worldwide on IT, an increase of 8.4 percent over 2020. The focus will be on technology that enables innovation, not just task completion. However, spending on new technology is unlikely to take a business far unless it first digitally transforms the underlying layer that carries the bits and pieces – the network. Businesses invest heavily in digitizing their operations, but one element that is often overlooked when compiling a digital transformation plan is the WAN network (WAN) that includes the various branches, outlets, employees, partners and others. stakeholders connected with each other. , and to the head office. “The success of digital transformation is highly dependent on flexible, powerful and reliable connectivity services with a well-functioning network that provides access to the right applications and data at the right time,” said Oscar Garcia, Senior Vice President, Business Marketing, Etisalat. . Although traditional networks such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) have been reliable and highly scalable for decades, businesses are now looking for solutions that optimize all network resources with better visibility and control. As more employees work remotely, using mobile devices and real-time conferencing applications, it is necessary to unite networks that can combine different sources of data such as cloud applications, big data, AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things. Fortunately, the development that satisfies the need for the new normal, the development that testifies to good flexibility, scalable, agile and safer –Managed software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). Here, instead of complicated hardware settings and dedicated lines, software controls the connection and access to the data center, remote branches and applications in the cloud. Etisalat, a leading SD-WAN enabler, is currently implementing one of the largest SD-WAN overlay networks in Abu Dhabi for a healthcare organization. An SD WAN network is also being implemented for a major oil and gas company in the UAE, and another for a global F&B chain. With multi-vendors, future-proof platforms and the ability to integrate end-to-end complex solutions, its managed SD-WAN is becoming the preferred choice for businesses. Here we look at how.
Etisalat SD-WAN can be deployed quickly throughout the organization with limited contact from on-site technicians. Devices automatically download their initial configuration from Etisalat’s core network, which does not require manual intervention. And for the initial setup required to switch an organization to SD-WAN, Garcia says that the typical delivery time from low-level design to implementation ranges from just two to a maximum of four weeks compared to a typical period of eight weeks for the compound and the CPE to be in place.
Scalability and flexibility
One of the biggest benefits of SD-WAN is that it is transport-independent. You can use it over an existing MPLS network, or via public Internet, broadband connections offered by different ISPs, Ethernet, 4G and 5G. You can easily add and remove connections as your business needs vary. You can merge diverse networks into one cohesive network that allows for sufficient redundancy. In case one network fails, you can easily route the traffic through another network, without stopping in the created overlay network.
SD-WAN encrypts the data as it flows from one part of an organization to another. It offers the flexibility to add more security features and customizations according to the business needs. The new SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) concept can secure the cloud, branch network and data center to deliver a secure SD-WAN fabric over diverse connections. Etisalat use the help of HelpAG – the cyber security arm of Etisalat Digital to provide collaborative, customizable solutions for secure networks.
With SD-WAN, an organization can mix and match the available connection types to achieve the desired application performance. It optimizes costs by eliminating the need for expensive network hardware in remote locations, but rather providing connections and services from the cloud. “Today, the customer spends individually on the different types of WANs with different endpoints,” Garcia explains. “With SD-WAN, single endpoints can be used for multiple subfiles, which not only reduces the cooling or power requirement, but also skilled manpower needed to manage the endpoints.”
Gone are the days when large organizations needed a small army of IT managers to maintain the WAN in different places. Etisalat SD-WAN management manage multiple websites from one console, even if it is spread around the world. It can set policies from a central location – for example, to ensure that business-critical applications get higher priority on the network, while less important applications get lower priority. These rules can be further modified with instant notice.
Network visibility and real-time analysis
The improved network visibility of Etisalat SD-WAN makes it easy to visualize and analyze what is happening in all corners of the network. Administrators can interactively interact with the corresponding data to quickly examine patterns and deviations and transform insights into immediate actions. Real-time SD-WAN data helps an organization respond quickly to remote connectivity issues. With Etisalat’s comprehensive and interactive dashboard, admin can quickly update and publish policies on all affected devices worldwide with a single click.
Business growth and expansion
The beauty of SD-WAN is that it can be customized for every need and that it can be dynamically upgraded as the business grows. Whether it’s a global organization that needs uniform control, or a growing enterprise that wants many places, Etisalat’s Service on Demand reduces complexity and delivers new levels of operational efficiency.