Industry talking to customers What's this? How software-defined network as a service solves 6 IT challenges Published: January 5th, 2018 By: Cindy Baker The main issue with networks these days is simple — they’ve become too complex.IT teams say they spend too much time and resources on managing day-to-day operations instead of strategic IT projects. For organizations to succeed during this era of unprecedented digital disruption, it’s crucial to focus on new and innovative ways to meet the needs of their clients.To do that, 80 per cent of Canadian organizations say they’d benefit from a simpler way to manage their networks, according to an IDC study.“Digital transformation is changing the experience dramatically,” says Evan Frith, director products and services, business and network solutions at TELUS. “They need an easier way to connect people and they need to be able to deploy bandwidth at speed to support applications. It calls for a different kind of network.”The IDC study shows that organizations are turning to software-defined networks to reduce complexity and to deliver bandwidth faster. It found that 70 per cent of Canadian organizations either use or say they plan to use software defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) within two years.What is software-defined networking?The development of SD-WAN takes networking a big leap forward by moving the intelligence from the physical devices to the software. This cloud-based service replaces the router with software, transforming the way networks are set up and configured. It means that organizations can automatically deploy or adjust network capabilities without manual intervention.“The network was hindering the delivery of applications,” says Charles Ferland, vice president of business development, Nuage Networks from Nokia. “You could activate applications in seconds, but you had to wait for the provider to do all of the IP addressing. That was a disconnect. This closes the gap.”Networking made easyTraditional networking presents six common challenges in the new digital environment. Here’s how SD-WAN solves them.Up-front costs are too high. Organizations can expect an average of 20 per cent in cost savings from SD-WAN, says IDC. Network capital costs can drop by as much as two-thirds through the elimination of hardware purchases and refresh upgrades. Operating costs can be reduced by at least 15 per cent as a result of streamlined management and reduced maintenance. “SD-WAN is a very scalable service, so you only pay for the services you actually need,” says Walter Miron, director, technology strategy with TELUS. “Plus, you don’t need to sign long-term contracts anymore. It’s very flexible,” he added.Too complex and time consuming to set up and manage. Deployment cycles can be reduced by as much as 80 per cent with SD-WAN, according to the IDC study. “It’s no longer about configuring each box one at a time,” says Ferland. “You can make a single template and configure all of the branch offices automatically.” SD-WAN dramatically reduces set-up time from months to days.Not agile to meet changing needs. With SD-WAN, organizations can use a self-serve platform to make network changes at a moment’s notice. As well, they can easily augment the network with reliable, dual access broadband service. “If you want to spin off a new office or plan a special event, you have the ability to quickly subscribe to the fastest Internet available,” says Ferland.Network security is an ongoing concern. ITWC’s Canadian CIO Census shows that data security continues to rank as the top day-to-day priority for CIOs. SD-WAN incorporates security by design, with robust firewalls to protect applications in the cloud. Also, by moving networking elements into software, it’s easy to set security parameters for each location that uses the Internet. This allows organizations to immediately block traffic from any location if a security breach occurs.Applications are not performing optimally. Every deployment has two accesses to ensure resiliency, says Miron. “Each link is consistently monitored for peak performance, and the organization’s network policies will set the priorities so the critical apps get the best service.” As well, by eliminating the need to route traffic through a head office, branch locations get direct access to cloud applications, reducing delays and easing network congestion.Not enough visibility and control of the network. The SD-WAN self serve portal gives full network control to the business and provides a consolidated view of the performance metrics for the network, services and locations.Focus on the FutureSD-WAN technology has matured since its introduction on the global market almost two years ago and is now poised for explosive growth.TELUS is the first Canadian service provider to launch a cloud-based SD-WAN solution in Canada. TELUS Network as a Service, powered by Nuage Networks, is designed to simplify networking while improving performance and efficiency, says Frith. “With the right network in place, digital transformation can be realized to its fullest extent.”Interested in SD-WAN? Learn more about TELUS Network as a Service here.