Simplifying your business technology: A case for Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN)


Peter Muhumuza

Technology should enable businesses develop new, enhanced, and delightful customer experiences, drive automation and significantly lower the cost to serve.

What technology should not be is another complex tool for employees to figure out to be able do their work, it should not necessitate your customers to take a crash course in Information Technology (IT) to use your products and services or endlessly frustrate them into frequently calling IT Support.

Complexity of business’ technology usually happens when organisations roll out new systems without testing them against ease of use.

A new system, however good at doing what it is designed for won’t stand the taste of time if the users are not comfortable using it. This also impacts the curiosity and enthusiasm to explore the system further, innovate on top of it to extend its capability or unlock more value for customers.

Whether you know it for a fact, or just sense it, business’ technology complexity is reducing your profits, slowing you down, introducing unexpected risks and hurting employee morale and productivity in your organisation while also alienating customers.

Organization leaders should task their IT managers to prioritize simplifying technology, only by doing so will they be able to reduce the risks associated with complex technologies, reduce long term IT operating costs, deliver efficiency and productivity gains across the board.

A business should have its leaders focused on the core of the business, if you are in agricultural business, your CEO should be focused on farmers, crops yield, access to markets and other things agriculture.

A CEO of an agricultural company shouldn’t have to spend sleepless nights worrying about the integrity of remote database that holds the company farmer’s yield reports or business accounts.

Simple can be complex, at least on the onset of IT simplification. IT managers cannot wave a wand and make IT simple overnight. Simplification is not a destination especially for technology infrastructure, it is a key design consideration and usually a journey with several challenges along the way.

For some organisations, not everything can be simplified due to the nature of the business they operate or stage in their life cycle. Where the business technology cannot be made any simpler, user and customer training should be emphasized and effectively communicated.

One technology that simplifies IT and transforms inter-connectivity is software-defined wide area networks, SD-WAN.

Many organizations require connectivity between their business entities, organisations require secure and seamless connectivity to their branch offices and remote workers, datacenters, and cloud instances.

Or it could be connectivity between your bank, revenue authority or mobile money aggregator to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

We have for a long time depended on the traditional Internet and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to provide us this connectivity, however they lack easy to use tools to control and prioritize business critical data flow.

In your traditional VPN configuration, it is difficult to tell the systems that an Electronic Funds Payment (EFRIS) to the revenue authority at the end of the month is critical and must go ahead before a windows software update or random user activities like browsing the web for news.

SD-WAN uses software to control the connectivity, management and services between data centers and remote branches or cloud instances.

SD-WAN keeps the complex network connectivity permutations in the underlay world hidden from the user, SD-WAN will present an interface that speaks to your business requirements, i.e., an EFRIS transaction to the revenue authority at the end of the month is more urgent than most other user activities on the network and must be prioritized accordingly.

SD-WAN technologies simplifies your business connectivity requirements and has several other benefits ranging from improving network application performance, reducing your IT costs by making efficient use of your expensive bandwidth, enhancing security for business-critical data traffic delivered over shared networks like the public Internet and enabling your IT team sleep better by providing them greater visibility and control.

The author is the Chief Technical Officer at Roke Telkom

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