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Orchestrating Distributed Network Transformation for the New Normal
Yatindra Mahajan Practice Head – Networks and Contact Center Services | February 4, 2021
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Harnessing the Power of Distributed Cloud

Even before the pandemic paralyzed the global business ecosystem, cloud operations and networking technology evolved as a key strategic differentiator for organizations. In 2020, Gartner forecasted that the worldwide public cloud services market would grow by 19% in 2021; with a total valuation of almost USD 307 billion.

Traditionally, much like operating systems, cloud computing platforms have provided basic underlying programs to help companies seamlessly access software applications and physical servers from remote locations. While conventional cloud services have helped companies cut costs and focus closely on core business operations; distributed cloud services add an additional geographic advantage to network architecture by shifting data and computing, closer to the user base.

The distributed cloud infrastructure takes services from public cloud providers and spreads them out to specific physical locations. This includes offloading of data governance and operations to the public cloud provider or relocating public cloud services to a localized edge cloud server. Distributed cloud computing also helps companies expand the conventional data-center oriented cloud model to a set of smaller distributed cloud infrastructure components that are geographically scattered.

The real value of distributed cloud computing though lies in the way it provides a flexible execution-rich environment for application micro-opponents to function seamlessly across geographically distributed servers. With operations thus being closer to the parties that need them, organizations can witness major boosts in performance, thanks to the absence of latency issues, and no real risks of a global network outage that could hamper their local services. Additionally, the “substations” that facilitate this distributed cloud network across key locations, ensure increased compliance with growing network security regulations, for data being stored in specific customer locations.

Creating a Robust Digital-Native Network with SD-WAN

Today, cloud infrastructure clearly underpins all digital transformation efforts, as organizations are increasingly relying on cloud-first, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategies. However, not all enterprise networks are calibrated to support cloud-heavy operations. Rather, they are specifically designed for applications stored in the data center.

Therefore, several organizations are struggling to strike the right balance between this traditional network architecture and new-age cloud demands. According to research, only 36% of business executives report that their enterprise networks are completely ready to support new business requirements. Less than half report that their networks are ready to support long-term digital and cloud initiatives.

Organizations are struggling to find a balance between traditional network architecture and new age cloud demands

Complexity has also become a major issue since organizations are often required to deal with multiple service providers and networks, which significantly delays the deployment of new services and features. In most cases, the network team finds itself challenged by the infrastructure while supporting IT processes that are relatively more agile with shorter development cycles.

The connectivity cost is another grey area which needs attention, as bandwidth requirements and traffic volumes are growing by leaps and bounds. Lastly, the network security stance is often fragmented, since businesses often end up assigning different networking models for different sites with varied levels of connectivity, such as internet or Multi-Protocol Network Switching (MPLS).

The road towards maturing as a digital-ready organization will inevitably have changing dynamics and requirements as a hurdle. In order to take the lead, organizations need to recalibrate their networking models and make it more application-centric to support the right end-user experience for every application. And, that is where SD-WAN solutions can help companies create a difference.

SD-WAN has rightfully managed to create a lot of buzz in the networking space over the past few years. Involving all the key components of a digital native network, it successfully closes the gap between conventional private WAN infrastructure characteristics and the evolving needs of remote connectivity in the digital age. This networking technology decouples an application from the core transport network architecture while providing the flexibility to run the same over any given transportation network or group of networks.

Given the dynamics involved, SD-WAN solutions serve as a natural extension to hybrid network architectures. However, the one distinctive feature that sets this networking technology apart is the involvement of a centralized software-driven analytics platform that constantly monitors, analyzes and controls the overall network stability, integrity, resilience and security. This aspect makes SD-WAN the perfect networking technology in the new normal, where workstations are distributed across geographies. By leveraging SD-WAN analytics, network administrators can gain visibility of the exact point where a user is located on the cloud network and gain a better understanding of where network or application issues persist.

The Question of Network Security

Because of the massive benefits that SD-WAN offers – better costs, less complexity and better application experiences than prior systems – it should come as no surprise that over 90% of surveyed IT leaders in 2018 were either using or planning to upgrade to SD-WAN.

However, with so many users currently operating from home, organizations are still having to move some of their traffic through central data centers, which are the hubs for remote access and security for the entire network. In such circumstances, how do organizations ensure security for their hybrid networking architectures? The answer is SASE.

This flexible new network security solution has already begun to make waves. Coupling remote access and enterprise network security with a distributed cloud module, the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is poised to change the very nature of security in an era of remote work. SASE meshes the benefits of SD-WAN and adds a host of dynamic security solutions that provide users with safe access — regardless of where they may be in the world.

However, in next generation SD-WAN deployments across a cloud-based ecosystem, this new framework can easily be accomplished while allowing for more granular control and visibility to the enterprise. These deployments can be further designed to offer real-time security and a full spectrum of functionality to existing SD-WAN configurations for their connected users. Essentially, SD-WAN transformations can bring the same benefits while also offering flexibility, simplicity, reliability, and — most importantly — control in a single solution. This can be used across both traditional and new cloud-based applications through a network architecture that provides secure access to every part of the business.

Rounding Up

It’s clear that SD-WAN based distributed cloud networking solutions will provide companies with the much-needed impetus to foster a long-term cloud revolution. It will specifically benefit progressive enterprises that are looking for newer opportunities to engage with stakeholders across geographically-dispersed environments and customers who are counting on seamless location-specific services with nominal latency.

At HCL, we are building industry transforming SD-WAN solutions encompassing ‘Cloud to Edge’ Intelligence. For more details, visit HCL TIS Webpage.