Apr 22 2019

Is Software-Defined Networking Right for Your Small Business?

From cost savings to personalization, SD-WAN has a lot to offer SMBs.

For small and medium-sized businesses, resiliency and productivity are key in all things, networking included. And for those looking for a more cost-effective and efficient way to deploy and manage legacy networks, software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN, can help.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Check out how Briggs & Stratton increased network efficiency by tapping SD-WAN.

The Benefits of SD-WAN for Small Businesses

Still an emerging technology, SD-WAN sees large adoption rates: About two-thirds of IT professionals recently reported they already have some of their WAN software-defined, while half have active SD-WAN projects. The enthusiasm for the tech comes down to its ability to help businesses find the fastest way to direct a connection for any application on the network. This capability promises to make network management more agile while cutting costs.

It is also particularly useful for businesses with several branch locations.

“If an SMB has a number of remote branches that are critical to the success of the business, runs critical applications and services at those remote sites, and has a need to tap into a more cost-efficient way to access bandwidth, there’s a compelling case for SD-WAN,” Brad Casemore, an IDC research director, tells BizTech.

Not to mention that businesses can boost the customer experience by tapping into SD-WAN effectively. The tech allows for better visibility into networks, where customers are using it and where spikes are occurring. And as customer behaviors change, SD-WAN allows businesses to improve tracking and adjust connectivity appropriately.

Moreover, with SD-WAN, companies can deliver personalized offers to customers once they connect to the network.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Are you falling behind on digital transformation?

SD-WAN Lets Businesses Double Down on Connectivity

Having SD-WAN is a great place to start when it comes to building a more robust network infrastructure, creating a pathway for SMBs to plan for possible internet outages. Alongside SD-WAN, adding a backup ISP or cellular connection to a business’s network can be a great way to ensure your entire business doesn’t shut down without a connection.

Beacon Lighting, for instance, shared at the recent NRF 2019 conference how the brand adopted SD-WAN from Riverbed Technology so that new branches didn’t have to wait for a DSL connection to open. Instead, new branch locations could tap cellular to get their stores up and running.

How SMBs Can Get Started with SD-WAN

If your interest is piqued, the next step is to lay the groundwork for a successful deployment.

Properly assessing network and infrastructure can go a long way in preventing hiccups in SD-WAN deployments.

A good place to start is to request a site survey from a third party in order to better understand any challenges that might arise.

From there, IT teams should look to test network connections to ensure they’re robust enough for an effective SD-WAN deployment, keeping an eye out for latency issues.

Last, for small and medium-sized businesses, a successful SD-WAN adoption often depends on having a good vendor partner. Most SMBs are stretched thin when it comes to IT — if they even have an IT department — so third parties can help to effectively manage and troubleshoot deployments.

While it may seem as if SD-WAN is just for the big guys, small and medium-sized businesses can truly make the most of this technology — and see networking and cost benefits to boot. All they have to do is take the plunge.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.


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