Most large organizations, irrespective of industry, are needing to redefine their business models, static operational strategies and legacy technology infrastructure, to keep face with a fast changing market. For example,
- Banks and financial institutions need to build robust data exchange mechanisms that enable new services such as cashless transactions, use of third-party banking infrastructure, borderless operations, virtual branches, payment banks, third-party products, personalized services, etc.
- Companies in the retail and distribution space (e.g. CPG, pharma, etc.) need to build strong predictive analytics capabilities for better understanding of consumer behavior, supply chain optimization, better resource utilization and enhanced logistics management.
- Insurance companies are looking at ways to make real-time customer information available at the point-of-sale, to ensure better risk profiling and improve sales
In scenarios such as these, interoperability of systems and data becomes a critical success factor.
Typical large, multi-location (or globally distributed) organizations will most probably have a number of common features, with respect to their WANs, such as non-standard policies, different types of network appliances, different data formats, etc. Typical WANs often do not include partner networks, which may have an entirely different set of processes and applications. E.g., banks may share need information with third party collection agencies or Direct Selling agents (DSAs). Pharmaceutical organizations may have pharmacies and clinics within their supply chain. This is a major hindrance to interoperability.
Due to diverse, siloed applications across legacy infrastructure and non-standard networks, organizations often struggle to get an aggregate, standardized view of information from all locations, geographies or branches. The notion of an SD-WAN, largely eliminates these challenges, since all policies and standards are centrally defined and managed. Since the network management is software defined, optimizing traffic becomes easy. This allows organizational networks to become much more seamless, standardized and interoperable.
Here are some of the key areas where SD-WAN enables better interoperability:
- Standardized Security Policies across the Ecosystem: In an SD-WAN, remote locations have the same level of security processes and protocols, irrespective of type and locations. Any change in security policies can be quickly and uniformly implemented across all locations. New security features can be added seamlessly across all branches.
- Unified Service Definition and Management: By using a standard approach to service definition and orchestration, IT teams can deploy or provision a uniform set of services to all locations. This allows all systems and functions across the organization to leverage the same set of services.
- Seamless Data Exchange: By having a common set of policies and a uniform network architecture, data can be exchanged across different branches seamlessly. However, to make seamless data exchange possible, organizations also have to implement uniform data quality and governance standards across the organization.
- Cross-Platform Connectivity: Advanced SD-WAN deployments (hybrid WANs) are generally pre-configured to integrate with various cloud platforms and on-premise IT environments. This allows organizations to build high levels of flexibility in their IT setup, e.g., the ability to migrate certain applications to cloud, without impacting network connectivity.
While traditional interoperability challenges continue to exist, the bigger challenge for the industry is to achieve seamless information exchange between different SD-WAN vendors, thus overcoming vendor lock-in and achieving true interoperability. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) such as Netmagic have proven experience in multi-vendor and SD-WAN deployments. Our strong experience in hybrid cloud deployments and network security solutions complement our SD-WAN services to provide a comprehensive networking solution to customers across industries.
Ravi Jha is the Associate Vice President – Product & Services (Network) at NTT Communications India Pvt Ltd