Digital transformation demands simpler enterprise IT

Date: Mon, 05/20/2019 - 12:39 Source: By Versa Networks

As the SD-WAN market evolves, enterprises need to simplify WAN deployment and management by consolidating diverse functions in remote and branch offices. A new “SD-Branch” model is proposed: simple, scalable and secure, with contextual visibility to apps and performance
Digital transformation demands simpler enterprise IT Atchison Frazer, Worldwide Head of Marketing, Versa Networks, at NetEvents EMEA IT Spotlight 2019, Sitges, Barcelona

PHOTO / telecomkh
Enterprises around the world are upgrading their legacy WANs in favor of more intelligent, agile and efficient platforms that save money while improving visibility and control. Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is one of the fastest-growing segments of the networking market. A 2018 IDC survey found that 40% of enterprises around the world have already deployed initial SD-WAN offerings, and 95% of enterprise WAN decision makers plan to invest in SD-WAN within the next two years.
Traditional WANs were not built for today’s cloud-native applications and the real-time, bandwidth-intensive requirements of so many devices. Inbound traffic flows from voice and video services and SaaS applications create lastmile congestion in conventional WANs. So the enterprise market is not only investing in SD-WAN but is already looking for next generation platforms to reduce the complexity and cost of deployment and management.
A key driver for SD-WAN is to enable application-level visibility and a fastramp to multiple clouds via a direct Internet breakout at the branch, rather than via backhaul to a data center. Security is always a top priority, so SDWAN and SD-Security need be embedded into the core architecture – rather than bolted on. According to IDC, other centrally managed functions in their branch infrastructure are also being consolidated as virtual network functions (VNFs). These include routing, SD-WAN, security, application-specific optimization for voice, video or other business critical applications, as well as integrated Wi-Fi and LTE.

A Simple, Secure SD-WAN Platform
Whereas most branch offices host four to six different network boxes – mostly multi-vendor with unique management interfaces – Software-defined Branch (SD-Branch) is a single hardware platform that supports SD-WAN, routing, integrated security and LAN/Wi-Fi functions that can all be managed centrally. 
SD-Branch’s clear benefit is operational agility: organizations can rapidly deploy and provision a network branch-in-a-box solution for new locations, and configure, control and adjust all branch network and security functions via a centralized management console with Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP). ZTP means that on activation it automatically connects to the cloud-based management system to be configured and it goes into operation once all authentication mechanisms are executed.
Built in SD-WAN capabilities include: multi-link transport-independent connectivity; centralized user and policy-based control; role-based access control (RBAC); per-segment and per-tenant routing; dynamic path selection, secure access, SaaS optimization; and deep real-time and historical visibility analytics. All functions – such as routing, SD-WAN, security, Wi-Fi, LTE and Session Border Controllers (SBCs) – are all integrated in a fully automated and programmable fashion.
A cloud-managed SD-Branch platform is best. Prior procurement and set-up can all be done on-line, so that the subsequent deployment can be fully automated. Spinning up new sites or new functions becomes as simple as enabling the service through a web-based portal with ZTP. Ongoing management is simpler because multiple branches and services can be managed centrally and updates can be done automatically without disrupting service to end users. 
With a cloud-managed system, customers get new features and functions as they are available rather than wait for upgrades or replacement of a physical or virtual appliance. And cloud-managed systems enable the shift from capex to an opex model.

The demand for SD-Branch
As the SD-WAN market matures, more organizations are considering SDBranch. An IDC survey identified the ease of central management and orchestration across branches as the key driver (31%), followed by integration of multi-vendor VNF (24%), rapid updates (24%), agility to spin up/down VNFs (23%) and use of COTS equipment (23%). SD-Branch is typically deployed on a generic universal customer premises equipment (uCPE). IDC estimates this uCPE market to grow from $146.8 million in 2017 to $915 million in 2022. 
A 2018 IDC CloudView survey found that 41% of enterprises are heavily using cloud and of those 72% are multi-cloud with workloads dispersed across corporate data centers, public clouds (IaaS/SaaS), interconnection hubs and more. They want SD-WAN to dynamically optimize connections to any destination, based on application intent and user behavior. 
They also want organically integrated security with holistic and granular network visibility plus real-time and historical feeds. Microsegmentation capabilities are key, along with integrated next-generation firewall (NGFW), unified threat management (UTM), web gateway security and modern Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). Simplified management and support needs include: cloud management, simplified user experience to rapidly deploy new sites or services from a web portal or single pane of glass, built-in tools for help and community support as well as opening/tracking trouble tickets.

Versa Networks
While many enterprises are just beginning to explore SD-Branch, Versa was among the pioneers spawning the concept, and is now expanding it with a cloud/app-based SD-Branch management platform – Versa Titan.*
Versa Titan empowers MSPs, VARs and SIs to centrally manage massmarket enterprise-wide area networks and branch offices. It offers mid-market enterprises the full functionality of Versa’s Secure Cloud IP, services such as routing, SD-WAN, security and analytics, along with an intuitive user portal, an integrated support portal and a mobile application for management. It provides contextual visibility of service assurance analytics between application reliability, network performance and security optimization, making it easier and faster for MSPs to achieve service-level objectives. MSPs, VARs and SIs can invite customers to purchase services and devices from a webbased portal instead of relying on traditional purchasing models.
Conclusion As SD-WAN rollouts ramp up, organizations are thinking enterprise-wide, and how they can simplify the rollout and management of essential services delivered over the enterprise WAN. IDC predicts that an automated, cloudmanaged SD-Branch platform will become a key priority in coming years.
*Available currently in North America only

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