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May 22, 2018

Conference Calls over Cat Gifs: The Enterprise Virtues of SD-WAN

"The technology is especially useful in the wake of a merger or acquisition, as historically integrating three or more networks can be complex and painful"

By CBR Staff Writer

‘’I just had an MRI, so I know my entire body was created as an image.’’ Atchison Frazer Head of Marketing for Talari Networks tells Computer Business Review.

Yet how does the hospital deal with that data, where does it go?

“It requires intelligence to be properly routed so that it gets to the right location.’’

Under a standard IT network this data and different classes of traffic converge, typically through the same pipe.

The problem here is that Frazer’s MRI scan is now competing to get through that pipe at the same pace as a cat video on a bored HR workers’ PC.

‘’You might have guest Wi-Fi in the lobby, but you want to segment the traffic and treat it differently,’’ points out Frazer.

This is where he believes an SD-WAN network can be instrumental in improving performance and productivity on your network.

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SD-WAN: Not for cat gifs.

What is SD-WAN again?

SD-WANs are starting to be used by companies, but what are they?

First, WAN is Wide Area Network, think of companies that have their offices spread across the world, yet the online component in these offices is linked to their own private network.

Typically a business will lease a line or set up a private circuit using a telecommunications company. So with a WAN all your offices connect across the world.

This also means all your individual PC’s, laptops and phones on the network are sending data to each other, but with no prioritising of what should load faster in the office.

‘’At a basic level, digital transformation is creating a whole new set of applications for the network to handle. If the network cannot differentiate between those services, then your business is essentially being held back by that part of your infrastructure.’’ Points out Chris Gilmour, technical practice lead for ICT company Axians.

Otherwise, Gilmour told Computer Business Review, you are just “building intelligent ‘islands’ that communicate with each other in a very rudimentary way.’’

SD-WANs help you prioritise packets over a network.

Think back again to the situation in a hospital and one emerging technology previously highlighted by Computer Business Review, Telemedicine, the ability to watch through the eyes of another via a headset and advise them mid operation.

‘’Through the genius of Telemedicine we can connect to an expert in Bangalore who is a specialist,’’ points out Frazer of Talari.

Yet here is where the importance of encryption comes back again.

Imagine the video captured imagery of a heart transplant or a medical examination being plucked live from the stream by a hacker.

What an intimate loss of data for a patient that would be.

Not only would SD-WAN set up a secure connection, but you make sure that the specialist talking from across the world into the ear of a surgeon is not breaking up and cutting out. You can say “these are important packets, so those are first in line please”.

As Frazer points out: “One of the beauties of what we do is we are inspecting every packet and it becomes an intelligence packet, because it’s encapsulated with Talari protocol, but it’s fully encrypted.’’

So let’s say you are not a critical medical industry what does SD-WAN mean for your small to medium enterprise.

Chris Gilmour of Axians told us that: “In practical terms, SD-WAN makes the most sense to businesses with 10 or more sites – 50 or so seems to be the sweet spot in terms of cost savings. The technology is especially useful in the wake of a merger or acquisition, as historically integrating three or more networks can be complex and painful.’’

SD-WAN can help solve those glitchy conference calls…

Adrian Tate, VP for EMEA sales at Talari, points to the cost of installing software which becomes useless due to connectivity issues: “’A lot of companies are implementing Skype for business and what you hear back from those customers is, well we have put in Skype for business, but actually no one is using it.’’

You are sitting down to a large conference call with managers in offices across the world. It takes time and money to gather like this, but not as much as flying everyone to one geographically location. So you need it to work properly.

The regular issues here are not on Skype’s end, but  within network issues on your end.

Your system is treating this important conference call just the same as one of your employees flicking through Facebook at the same time.

So you have spent money on an IT solution that doesn’t work.

An SD-WAN network can make sure that it works on time and that the connection is secure.

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