3 real-world examples of how to use SD-WAN to make money

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Saving money with SD-WAN (part three)

Having debunked some of the myths surrounding SD-WAN’s money-saving properties in part one, and having provided some hypothetical examples of how it can actually save you money in part two, in the final part of this series I want to really ‘get real’ about SD-WAN.

Because once the hype has died down, and the ‘magical box’ myths are a distant memory, SD-WAN will still be there, generating tangible benefits for businesses across all industries and making them real money. A Google search will show you that SD-WAN is already a trend – there’s no getting ahead of that. But even though everybody’s talking about it, relatively few businesses are actually making the most of it. But some are – and here are three ways in which they’re doing it.

1. Economise while you globalise

For businesses, globalisation is a wellspring of opportunity, but it also creates new challenges. Many businesses have international offices that they need to connect-up - securely, reliably and cost effectively. And of course, it’s the cost effectiveness that often presents the biggest problem.

Why? Because security and reliability costs. Historically, those wishing to connect an international site or sites with full resilience have had to shell out for not one, but two international MPLS circuits (the second acting as a backup). Given the cost of international MPLS circuits, doing this isn’t exactly cheap.

Thanks to SD-WAN, though, businesses can now take a hybrid WAN approach to connecting international sites. This means using an international MPLS circuit backed up by an Internet circuit – and saving a pile of money in the process.

Before SD-WAN, running an MPLS circuit backed by an Internet circuit would have meant compromising your service. By cleverly using SD-WAN, however, we can now guarantee as good a service as an all-MPLS set-up, with as much resiliency, across a lower cost-based setup.

We do this by taking advantage of the application steering SD-WAN enables. This functionality allows us to put priority applications on the main MPLS circuit – thereby retaining the SLA and quality of service required – while mapping non-critical stuff onto an Internet line – thereby saving money.

2. Maximum security, minimum cost

With threat vectors multiplying as the Internet of Things emerges and businesses move more and more of their operations into the Cloud, cyber security has arguably never been so important to get right - or so challenging. And for businesses in possession of more than one office or site, there are obviously additional challenges; security can be extremely complex and expensive to set-up and maintain across multiple sites.

If you’ve got twenty offices, for example – that’s twenty physical firewalls that need to be installed and supported, with twenty different support contracts. And even once those firewalls are set up, if you want to roll out a new policy or software upgrade, that’s twenty separate upgrades you need to devote money and man-hours to. It’s making me tired just thinking about it! By the way, twenty offices might sound like a lot to some businesses, but could actually be quite a modest number by the standards of (for example) some retailers, some of whom have hundreds of sites to oversee and secure.

Transferring to a cloud-based security service will eliminate many of these headaches, and SD-WAN is arguably the best way to go about it. With SD-WAN, you get single-pane-of-glass visibility and control over your entire network, including all devices and endpoints (which SD-WAN networks authenticate with scalable key-exchange functionality and software-defined security). You’ll be able to roll out updates, configurations, patches and policies at the touch of a button, and - what’s more - you won’t even have to set-up physical firewalls in the first place!

3. An access all areas pass for businesses

For many businesses, there are times when sites need to be set up so quickly that connecting them up to the business’s main network isn’t an option. For construction and retail businesses, this is an increasingly familiar challenge: both routinely have to set up a porta-cabin site or pop-up store without access to fixed-line connectivity. In these situations, there’s unlikely to be space for hardware. Very likely there’s no IT staff on-site. It could also be a short-term implementation, making it difficult to install hardware in time to make it cost effective.

Once again, SD-WAN comes to the rescue! Because SD-WAN can be accessed through just about any access mechanism – from Ethernet to 4G data – you can use it to get up and running in no time at all. A retailer armed with SD-WAN can set up a pop-up shop and connect via 4G, and can switch to a more robust access point – at which time 4G becomes the backup as and when it becomes available.

Supplementing the savings in hardware costs will be the increased revenue businesses can expect to generate by eliminating delays in setting up. The agility SD-WAN’s flexibility gives to businesses also means they can set-up in a wider range of locations – and that equates to even more potential revenue.

The bottom line: the sky’s the limit

So there you have it – three examples of how businesses are proving that SD-WAN is more than just hype, and that the savings you can make using it are real and tangible. And these are only three examples, and this is only really the beginning. Ultimately, the control SD-WAN gives businesses over their network management means that the only limit to the ways in which it can save them money is the limit of network experts’ ingenuity.

Thanks for reading this blog series. We would love to hear your feedback on the blogs, any questions you might have, and any thoughts you yourself have on SD-WAN and its capacity to positively impact a business’s bottom line. Please leave comments below this blog or on social media, and let’s get the conversation started!

In the meantime, you can learn more about SD-WAN on our website

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Digitising the high street, part two: How?

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In part one of this two part blog series, we looked at why "bricks-and-mortar" retailers are embracing Digital Transformation in order to compete with the new breed of online retail giants.

In part two, we look at the specific challenges Digital Transformation is throwing up for the high street, and how these challenges can be addressed.

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Digital Transformation in the Legal sector: some key takeaways from BLTF 2019

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Attending the British Legal Technology Forum (BLTF) in London last week highlighted the increasing importance and emphasis on Digital Transformation (DX) within the Legal sector. 

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Why digital transformation (DX) is the engine powering advancements in the life sciences industry.

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The life sciences ecosystem encompasses organisations from big pharma to biotech start-up, third sector to private equity / VC, all ultimately striving to positively impact people's lives and deliver tangible patient outcomes in an increasingly complex health environment. However, in this digital age, their noble work risks diminishing returns if technological progression is not embraced, and DX is not adopted - after all, no one wants to get left behind.
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How to simplify multi-Cloud management

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In recent years, Cloud has become popular with organisations due to its simplicity, accessibility and relatively low-cost. Using Cloud, you can avoid many of the difficulties and expenditures that come with operating your own infrastructure, and - because it's easily accessible from anywhere - Cloud can give your users much more flexibility than on-prem legacy infrastructure.

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Making sense of the Cloud-buzz: what quick wins are available to establish Business and Security value?

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On Thursday 25th April, Exponential-e held a Financial Services and Insurance roundtable event at 'M Restaurant' in Victoria, London. The event brought together leading figures from these two sectors to share their experience of Cloud adoption and the benefits it can provide to businesses.

The conversation was kicked off by guest speaker Steve Deakin, Head of Development and Operations at Lloyds of London, discussing his experiences of Cloud and the client perspective. Next followed Nick Robinson, Systems Engineering Manager at Palo Alto Networks, who provided a view of real world innovations and shared Cloud success stories that he has seen from his clients across EMEA.

Here is a high level summary and description of the quick wins that were discussed:

The Process:

  • Learn -> Hack -> Iterate


Horizon Scanning & DevOps with an AGILE mind-set

  • Microsites and Micro services that are already trialled, tested and robust from an architecture and security perspective - this enables one to rapidly deploy new products and services, websites etc. with security peace of mind.
  • Serverless - just focus on writing codes and you can make changes in microseconds! It is easy to deploy, low cost, gives you more time to focus on UX and is more efficient for developers by ensuring you are keeping code backed up and in a secure environment.
  • Grid Data Analyst - overcome floods and complexity of big data and unlock the power of analytics with the right data in the right place.


Cybersecurity

  • OWASP Top 10 - whilst the threat landscape remains consistent year on year, everyone should make sure they are aligned to the latest as it evolves. Assuming the top 10 remains unchanged or that changes are incremental such as low priority to action, can lead to vulnerabilities. www.owasp.org
  • NCSC - The National Cyber Security Centre is an organisation of the United Kingdom Government that provides advice and support for the public and private sector on how to avoid computer security threats. www.ncsc.go.uk
  • Ethical Hacking - this should be continuously implemented - leverage Pen testers and vulnerability scanning as much as possible in order to follow best practices and processes - Learn -> Hack -> Iterate.
  • Social Engineering was also discussed, not so much as a quick win due to the complexity (get the simple things right first) however, advised to leverage Pen testers to protect your business from bad actors that use social engineering tactics.
  • Multi Factor Authentication – we discussed how this is a very low hanging and important measure to put in place. Leverage MFA to 1) require individuals to provide two or more authentication factors to confirm their identity for online transactions or to gain access to corporate applications, networks and servers and 2) insight and reports on the user's activity. Identity (IAM) and Privilege Access Management (PAM) were also mentioned as a further way to secure your business.
  • Security Information and Event management (SIEM) - leverage SIEMS as a means to log attacks. An IT Service Provider can provide an important layer of service to proactively manage, monitor and report on what the SIEM is seeing on a 24/7 365 basis.


Cloud Patterns


Data Lakes

  • Building out centralised repository for enterprise data, for tasks such as reporting, visualization, analytics and machine learning - leveraging cloud partners to build out big data solutions.


A debate for another day

  • DevOps and Open Source software is and will continue to be the main target for bad actors, they hold the code (the crown jewels). Should such resources have locked or unlocked internet access? On one hand it offers flexibility and agility, on the other it is more locked down and has a stronger argument from a security perspective.


#Azure #AWS #CloudPatterns #Cybersecurity #OWASP #NCSC #DevOps #HorizonScanning #EthicalHacking #Digital Transformation

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Forget the hype: here’s 3 ways you can actually save money with SD-WAN

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Saving money with SD-WAN (part two)

"SD-WAN is an exciting, transformative technology that can do a lot of amazing things for your business – but it needs to be used correctly."

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Digitising the high street, part one: Why?

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As highlighted by a Retail CIO roundtable discussion held by Exponential-e, in order to compete with e-commerce "bricks-and-mortar" retailers will have to personalise their in-store experiences - and they'll need to do so with the aid of Digital Transformation.

In part one of this two part blog series, we look at why the high street needs Digital Transformation to survive and prosper.

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Why a stable network should be every bricks-and-mortar retailer’s bread-and-butter

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According to the latest PwC report, about 14 shops are closing every day in the UK as the high street faces one of its toughest seasons in five years. It’s no secret that the convenience of online shopping has been challenging retailers for some time now. With the world of technology ever changing, retailers need to adapt in order to keep up with both their immediate competitors and the wider industry.

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What is the role of Telematics in the Transport and Logistics industry and how will it impact digitisation?

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The foundation of Telematics is the technology that collects, stores and sends information between end users and vehicles through telecommunication devices.

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Why a people-first, technology-second approach is vital for powering the recruitment industry

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In many ways, thanks to technology, it has never been easier to connect people. For the recruitment industry, this is particularly pertinent, as meaningful connections are precisely the foundations on which the industry is built. After all, people don’t trust companies - they trust other people. In our digital age, however, the industry faces a host of technology-based challenges.

By nature, recruiters always strive for effective communication; in a world where it’s so easy to hide behind a screen, they understand the need for a personal touch and taking the time to meet face-to-face. However, the very technology that now connects us is also in some ways to blame for our workforce seeming more disparate than ever.

For example, candidates often might not work near a recruiter’s office - indeed, they might be an ocean away - so video interviews have become increasingly popular over coffee-conversations.

Unfortunately, these are easily scuppered by poor connectivity, as offices within the sector tend not to have particularly complex IT environments. This means that recruiters find themselves stuck with legacy landline phones, turning instead to FaceTime on their iPhones to conduct interviews.

Problems also arise when it comes to communicating with clients. Customer service is key, but it can be difficult to deliver when the internet speed is too poor to handle Google Hangouts. For an industry that trades on professionalism, a crackling line can cause untold embarrassment. What’s more, the common practice of sharing files insecurely through shadow IT can cause all sorts of compliance issues. To recap, shadow IT describes IT solutions used within an organisation without the approval, or even the knowledge, of IT decision-makers; in our post-GDPR world, it’s easy to imagine the ramifications of its use if left unchecked.

With the UK recruitment industry growing rapidly yet recruiters simultaneously struggling with the quality of hire and talent scarcities, it’s clear that recruitment firms must maximise productivity and efficiency of its people and operations in order to remain competitive. This is where the value of Unified Communications and telephony service, underpinned by a robust and reliable network, becomes most apparent. Equipped with these tools, recruiters can carve out new ways to communicate with candidates and clients alike, future-proofing their business in the process.

This is especially important when considering how the recruitment industry is a barometer for the global economy; when there’s a slowdown in recruitment, there’s a slowdown coming in the relevant sector. As such, a people-first approach with technology at its core – one that promotes the importance of effective human interactions while harnessing the power of technology – is vital not only for the recruitment industry but also companies across all sectors throughout the world. With the right IT support network in place to facilitate this, siloed technologies no longer need to get in the way and prevent recruiters from doing the job they do best: bringing people together through unparalleled professionalism.

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Multi-cloud and security challenges

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76% of organisations are implementing the cloud or already operating in it. And no wonder: Cloud can do great things for your organisation. It can provide increased data storage capacity, improved business continuity, and potential cost reduction. However, using the cloud brings significant security risks with it, including data loss and threats to data privacy.
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Cloud control: the perils of running a multi-cloud environment

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​The key ingredient for any organisation looking to drive digital transformation is Cloud. Actually, scratch that: it is Clouds. But how do you manage multiple Clouds without getting bogged down by digital paperwork?
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Busting the #1 myth about SD-WAN

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Saving money with SD-WAN (part one)

Software Defined WAN, or SD-WAN for short, is the new big thing in business networking. Everybody’s talking about SD-WAN, and about what it can do for businesses.

Well, there’s no doubt that SD-WAN can do a lot for your business; in fact, we’ll be talking about exactly that in part 2 of this 3 part blog series. But before we do that, we need to talk about what SD-WAN can’t do.

Right now there’s a popular misconception among businesses concerning SD-WAN – a misconception fed and sustained by headlines and marketing hype - that could lead them to take damaging shortcuts in incorporating SD-WAN into their business.

The Myth: SD-WAN is a magic box: just plug it in and you’ll save money!

 

As with many myths, there’s an element of truth to this one. SD-WAN can save you money – just not in the way you might have been misled to believe.

SD-WAN is a technology with great potential. It allows you to monitor and manage network performance, for example, while you can use it to centrally control policies and prioritise applications - and that’s just for starters. What SD-WAN isn’t is an adequate replacement for good networking in of itself.

But here’s the thing: private, business-grade WAN/MPLS is expensive (or at least is perceived to be). And – since the headline on the typical SD-WAN article will be something like: ‘Save 40% on your networking with SD-WAN!’ – SD-WAN is perceived as cheap.

It’s no wonder that for SMEs, the ‘SD-WAN is a magic box!’ myth is an attractive one, since – unlike larger enterprises with resources to burn – SMEs are less inclined (and able) to pay for full SD-WAN integration.

‘Save money!’

... that's an attractive prospect for any organisation. However, while large enterprises can afford to fully integrate SD-WAN with their network infrastructure, SMEs are easily tempted by the myth. No big surprise, either, that some SD-WAN vendors are telling these SMEs not to waste money on an expensive MPLS when you can get something just as good by buying a cheap broadband connection and plugging it into an SD-WAN box.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Bingo!

Here’s why…

There are no shortcuts: consumer vs business internet

Think about your broadband router at home. Silently running in the hallway, green signal-light flashing inconspicuously. Seems fairly harmless, doesn’t it? You basically forget it’s even there.

 

Most of the time, it will run fine; the lights will remain green. Sometimes, it will slow-down, or even stop working. This happens maybe once or twice a week. You don’t ring up your service provider because it’s unlikely to cause too much damage.

But imagine that humble, harmless home router sitting, not just in your business but at the centre of your business. Suddenly, seeing a light go red instead of green will send a shiver down your spine. A drop in speed now has real financial repercussions. And an outage? Even worse.

And then there’s security…

 

Obviously, businesses need the internet. But do they need consumer internet - even if it’s being managed through an SD-WAN box? The answer is NO.

Business-grade internet: the price is right

If plugging the internet into SD-WAN really did make consumer-internet as secure as business-internet, business-internet would become obsolete. This isn’t going to happen, however: a pseudo-MPLS service running on the Internet will never be able to replace a good network.

Yes, it’s true - business-grade internet is expensive. But it’s expensive for a reason. Unlike consumer-internet, it’s fully managed, with SLAs in place to ensure against latency and packet loss, and underpinned (if you pick the right service provider) by intelligently designed networking using nothing but the best technology.

SD-WAN can compensate for some of these shortfalls, but not entirely – or even adequately.

Will you save money in the short term by opting for an SD-WAN box over a business-network with an underlying physical bearing? Sure. But in the long term, going for the cheaper option might end up costing you a lot more.

So, how do you really save money with SD-WAN?

When you truly understand what SD-WAN is (i.e. not a magic box), you can save money in the long term, too. At Exponential-e, our approach to SD-WAN is to take good, solid network underpinnings and insert SD-WAN into them, using the technology intelligently in order to make networks more efficient – which saves money and boosts revenue.

I’ll demonstrate some of the ways we might use SD-WAN to improve a network in the next blog in our series. In the third part, we’ll look at some real-world instances of SD-WAN being applied intelligently to networks.

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The bottom line: the financial & operational benefits of complete Cloud estate visibility

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In our last blog, Jonathan Bridges talked about how Exponential-e’s Cloud Management Platform (CMP) could simplify your Cloud estate by providing a single-pane-of-glass view of different Cloud environments.

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There’s an app for that – but is this what the NHS really needs?

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New health secretary Matt Hancock has been beating the technology drum. As well as announcing that almost £500 million would be made available for technology, he's also asserted that the service needs more apps. However, it’s fair to wonder: is this the right avenue to funnel resources?

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Why technology is vital for future-proofing the broadcast and media industry

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Today, innovation in technology is changing the way digital media is consumed more quickly than ever before. Tech-savvy consumers are creating an ever-growing market for data-intensive HD and UHD content, consuming content online, on the move and on-demand.

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Beyond boundaries: what Darwin and Xerox can teach businesses about limitless innovation

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When it comes to business strategy, nothing is certain except change. Darwinism – otherwise known as “survival of the fittest”, rather than merely the biggest – is as prevalent in the business world as in nature. Rather than the biggest businesses, only the most adaptable survive; as ever, history tells us as much.

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Enabling innovation: the boundaries and limitations of traditional IT

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As IT teams look to assume the innovative role now expected of them, major challenges are being thrown up by changes in the business landscape. Following last week’s lessons from Darwin and Xerox on limitless innovation, it’s time for an education on enabling such innovation in all areas of business.

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Cloud and the top 3 technology considerations for business transformation strategy

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In the final instalment of this story of innovation and Cloud computing, it’s time to explore how a successful transformation strategy yields the best of both worlds -- that is to say, harnessing both Public Cloud and Private Cloud to create a fruitful Hybrid.

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