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Prepare for a Hyper-Connected World with 5G and SD-WAN
Vaibhav Gupta Product Manager, Global Network Services | April 9, 2021
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The promise of enhanced connectivity is the backbone of business innovation as it empowers business leaders to broaden their ambitions towards new products and solutions. This is the only way to ensure a future-ready posture that remains competitive and dynamic in the face of new opportunities. It allows enterprises access to fluidic connectivity with flexible transport options that leverage smart WAN solutions across edge and global networks to deliver enhanced digital experiences while benefiting from greater business agility.

With a layer of emerging technologies, such as remote robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and IoT in general, industries are witnessing a new wave of digital trends. From connected cars, and smart cities to virtual and live events with advanced experiences, the need for seamless connectivity is rising at an unprecedented rate. The market for anytime connectivity is poised to jump from a conservative USD 69 billion in 2020 to USD 141.1 billion by 2025, a significant spike of 15.4% CAGR. As a result, the search for the right networking solution to meet the needs of this transformation have become a critical business decision. Already, we’ve evolved well past legacy frame-relays to adopt MPLS, internet-based WAN, and software-based WAN (SD-WAN) system. But with 5G rapidly getting close as the new networking standard, we’re ready for a major leap forward.

The Business Potential of Combining 5G and SD-WAN

The global SD-WAN adoption is fast becoming the industry mainstay. Gartner expects 60 percent enterprises will implement SD-WAN by 2024, leaping from 30 percent in 2020. This is perhaps not a major surprise, given SD-WAN’s capability to offer low-cost, reliable management of complex and diverse networks. It’s a major bonus that it is adaptable to cloud applications to offer reliably higher bandwidth at lower latency for optimal performance.

In fact, as connected devices become integral to enterprise’s phygital operations, it will require consistent bandwidth and low latency from its networking architecture. And this is where 5G enters the picture. Already, the market for 5G systems is poised to rise at a 43.4% CAGR, from USD 945 million in 2019 to USD 5.7 billion in 2024. Even the GSMA predicts that 5G will become the primary mobile network technology within the next five years. With 5G connectivity, enterprises can envision a future that blends the ultra-high speed connectivity across a reliable and intelligent cloud-based SD-WAN solution.

Individually, both 5G technology and SD-WAN provide a number of practical advantages. However, their union has the power to completely transform the entire networking landscape for next generation enterprises by enabling a real impact in enterprise branch networking and interconnecting data, systems, applications, clouds and ‘things’ at the edge. Companies that have already adopted SD-WAN and even those seeking it out, can benefit from its new capability to leverage a range of transport services.

A Transformational Future with 5G-Powered SD-WAN Architecture

Future-forward enterprises must set the wheel of 5G-SD-WAN running as major industries are making the leap towards IoT-enabled operations. Autonomous transport, AR/VR-enabled construction worker support, healthcare monitoring with smart wearables, and smart metering in energy networks are ongoing use-cases. To truly appreciate the possibilities, let’s consider the scenario of a connected manufacturing unit or a smart factory.

With the Industry 4.0 paradigm, these new networks will enable low-latency edge computing capabilities. Machineries connected via IoT will benefit from the 5G low-latency while SD-WAN infrastructure will enable the factory to optimally separate traffic and direct time-sensitive machineries faster and more efficiently than ever before. Simultaneously, such a system would also directly support employees and other non-critical machinery that needs to access the internet via broadband or MPLS transport. This will help the factory to improve bandwidth efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance application performance.

In a more consumer-focused environment, SD-WAN with 5G has a more practical impact, affecting the traditional working process. Take the case of the end-to-end lifecycle management of cashier-less automated check-out systems and smart workload placement across edge and cloud locations. This requires optimized routing and delivery of consistent speeds near the edge. The system also needs to be secure between the edges for assured business security. To roll out service faster, automation of the workload placement and acceleration of the telecom testing and measurement (TTM) is imperative and 5G with SD-WAN makes it all possible.

Implementing SD-WAN with 5G slicing and a dynamic orchestration solution enables the deployment of a highly effective, user-experience driven self-service portal. It allows the portal to offer smart placement of workloads and E2E order management that leads to the efficient delivery of services. The flexibility of SD-WAN combined with the speed and ease of 5G enables business solutions with the adoption of advanced value-added use cases across industries and verticals. For enterprises evolving to this solution, the possibilities of innovation are truly endless.

Benefits SD-WAN with 5G Brings to the Table

Reduced operational costs: SD-WAN reduces the dependence on physical on-premise tools and uses the cloud to enhance network connectivity and resource usage. With 5G, SD-WAN significantly reduces operational costs due to transport independence across different connection types and increased WAN bandwidth capacity.

Advanced computing speed close to the edge: 5G can significantly decrease data transport times while SD-WAN can move computing functions to the cloud. This will enable quick processing of large volumes of data since the resources are located closer to edge devices. With this, companies can reduce energy consumption and hardware costs.

Optimized traffic routes: As discussed before, SD-WAN prioritizes traffic routes based on the criticality of an application. This intelligent routing allows a company to flexibly use its data transport services depending on the use case. It automatically routes high-bandwidth traffic to a 5G link while low-bandwidth traffic is directed to other available transport services.

Centralized management and application intelligence: SD-WAN can intelligently reroute traffic, thus facilitating easier operation, management and maintenance of 5G cells and computing edges. It can also prioritize app performance as necessary. Therefore, the traffic on a critical application that needs ultra-low latency is routed to a 5G channel. This enables the required performance boost.

Virtual WAN overlay using NFV-based uCPE: SD-WAN allows virtual WAN overlays by efficiently and flexibly allocating network resources to mission-critical traffic. Using an NFV-led universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) platform with an SD-WAN solution can help to reduce hardware footprint from the branch. Plus, 5G provides the required fast speed to facilitate programmability and orchestration.

High-end network security with SASE: While 5G’s high speed network can be counter-productive owing to its greater chance of attracting hacking attempts due to increased web-traffic without security foundations, SD-WAN’s ability to connect multiple networks can help strengthen security by directing data traffic through 5G radio network. The radio network is encrypted and allows mutual authentication to create a zero trust access environment. Also, the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) model allows companies to use SD-WAN’s intrinsic security capabilities to provide safer remote access.

HCL’s TIS SD-WAN 2.0 – Driving the Future of Enterprise Innovation

The growing momentum of anytime connectivity in the commercial networking space has heightened the need for an advanced network solution with SD-WAN. This is why HCL’s SD-WAN 2.0 solutions offer a Transport Independent Site framework that follows a cloud-agnostic model for dynamic routing and intelligent connections. HCL’s TIS solution takes a business-first and experience-centric approach to network architecture. This enables enterprises to leverage centralized control, cloud-management, AIOps, global network automation and orchestration, advanced analytics, network security, and carrier-neutral aggregation, through an easy to consume Pay-As-You-Go service model. Being an open platform, the uCPE-led intelligent branch connects to virtual SD-WAN at the edge and enables AIOps, as well as network-on-demand to enable end-to-end service chaining, traffic steering, and branch-to-cloud WAN connectivity.

To bring the capabilities of 5G and SD-WAN to modern enterprises, HCL has established niche partnerships with multiple vendors. In this transformational times, some enterprises require legacy wired services to co-exist and complement the new and cheaper, programmable 5G-based networks. For example, an existing MPLS network that is integrated as one of the SD-WAN connections will need to complement the 5G links. HCL can deploy such implementations, while ensuring greater control and faster data delivery backed by robust analytics to simplify the operations.

Legacy wired services can co-exist and complement the cheaper and faster programmable 5G if connected to SD-WAN

And since SD-WAN supports a range of WAN links, HCL can establish seamless IoT connectivity in remote and hard-to-reach locations as well. The underlying benefits are far greater and more versatile in the long term. After all, an end-to-end branch to cloud implementation journey can make enterprises future-ready and bring them to the forefront of the 5G and SD-WAN revolution.

To learn more about next decade-ready advanced SD-WAN solution, please feel free to reach out to us at Contact.NGN@hcl.com