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Small businesses continue to transform the way they do business through advanced technology and connectivity options. One of the latest technologies to increase ROI for small businesses is software-defined networking, or SD-WAN. SD-WAN is able to help small businesses navigate the complexity of network management, improve internet connectivity, optimize bandwidth, and enhance network visibility.
In our 2019 SMB IT Security Report, we learned that 40% of small and midsized businesses operate in at least 5 physical locations, and with the changing business landscape, this trend is likely to continue. This can mean struggling with the complexity of managing multiple configurations and connectivity types depending on the location of the branch office. Some may have access to 100Mbps at their location, while others are limited to 50Mbps. Different office locations may rely on cloud based applications and access to data and applications at the headquarter location to sustain daily business operations. These locations may also have an increased reliance on video conferencing or VoIP to maintain connectivity to teams located at the headquarter office. All of these complexities can overwhelm an already stretched IT department, and software-defined networking can be the cure to some of these network pain points SMBs experience.
There are several reasons SMBs are transitioning to SD-WAN for branch office connectivity:
Application-Based Traffic Handling: SD-WAN logically routes traffic types based on their classification over multiple connection types. This means if your business relies on video conferencing and other bandwidth intensive applications can be logically separated from other Internet traffic offering an efficient use of the current network connections already in place. Network connections are more capable, reliable, and cost-efficient, which is always a plus for budget-strapped SMBs.
Painless Management: SD-WAN allows IT teams, regardless of size, to manage multiple deployments with ease. Providing increased visibility into the network application layer, network administrators can easily update policies and protocols, pushing these changes in real time across the whole network, improving employee productivity in the meantime.
WAN Optimization: SD-WAN allows businesses to use their Internet connectivity in the most efficient manner available. For example, when many users are sharing a single connection, access to business-critical cloud applications such as Salesforce, G suite, and Office365 can become slow. As bandwidth becomes consumed by these applications, other applications that rely on real time communications such as VoIP phones and video conferencing like Zoom and GotoMeeting start to suffer. Without enough bandwidth, these applications will suffer from voice calls dropping and video frames freezing. SD-WAN, with sophisticated WAN optimization technology, inspects and classifies network activity to enable routing decisions based on applications or category of network traffic in real time. This allows businesses to get optimal performance from their current Internet connections, reducing the cost of investing into more expensive connections to handle the growing need for bandwidth-intensive applications.
SD-WAN is an ideal, inexpensive and easy-to-implement solution for a small business looking to take advantage of the latest technology to scale their business. With SMBs, lack of internal personnel or dedicated IT resources means turning to a Managed Service Provider or 3rd Party IT Vendor. Businesses who currently work with MSPs for their IT needs, will also find that many MSPs are including managed SD-WAN into their service stack. Working with your current MSP or IT professionals to extend your network infrastructure will streamline costs and reduce vulnerabilities that may arise using a patchwork of service vendors.
Each of these benefits allows businesses to focus their time on the core of their business instead of spending time on network management, or looking into expensive options to upgrade their internet. Furthermore, turning to an experienced MSP who offers a managed SD-WAN solution is an ideal way for a small business looking to take advantage of the latest technology to scale their business.
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