June 1 brings with it the start of the 2015 hurricane season and the reminder that businesses need to fine-tune preparations in hopes of avoiding the considerable disruption and financial distress that natural disasters often leave in their wake. A significant disaster, or excessively long recovery period, could drive a company’s customers to its competition, incur losses that cannot be recouped, or worse, force a company out of business.
Companies are placing an increasing emphasis on the use of the Internet and continue to migrate applications into the cloud for both internal and external uses. Thus a well constructed plan for business continuity – and ensuring network availability when people need it most – is crucial.
Backup and access to critical applications and data using a WAN (wide area network) is business connectivity. Though these capabilities are important, however, they are not the end goal. Business continuity is about not only achieving connectivity, but additionally ensuring application and data availability and the efficiency of information flow. To continue operations in a time of disruption, networks need to manage around congested or unavailable network paths and be able to reach alternative data centers in case one fails.
In essence, the continuously available data center architecture needs to be accompanied by a high-performance, highly reliable WAN to keep the business up and running around the clock. Unfortunately, until recently, instilling business continuity into the migration of applications and data into the cloud required overbuilding the network and/or purchasing excessive network connectivity. Think of this solution as: If I spend enough I can get some degree of protection.
But now there is a better way to address business continuity with less cost, more flexibility, and increased management efficiency – use a Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN).
An SD-WAN solution will provide:
- Automated orchestration
Simplify application provisioning using a Web-based portal or API where business polices are automatically translated into WAN configuration. Incrementally, any network changes are automatically detected and orchestrated for new or modified network configurations.
- Dynamic allocation
Manage connectivity for application requirements on-demand. For example, a very common event is the congestion or even loss of a specific network path, requiring traffic to be rerouted in order to ensure uninterrupted application usage. In this situation, the allocation of WAN resources needs to be dynamically adjusted to the new requirement without sacrificing any quality of service.
Rapidly implement WAN changes based on changes in business priorities, changes in network topology, or changes in network behavior. For example, many natural disasters come with some advance notice, at least enough to invoke business continuity changes preemptively for how application and data traffic should be handled.
From the IT manager up to the CIO, making sure the expected WAN behavior matches the actual WAN behavior is a top priority. This holds true for UC as well as for every other business-critical application, so having end-to-end visibility of traffic flows and application statistics is critical to decision making and cost containment. Examples of the type of information that should be provided in a dashboard view are: aggregate bandwidth flows (actual vs. allocated); per-flow statistics, such as bytes and packets transmitted; and per-switch and per-port statistics, such as bytes and packets transmitted, received, and dropped.
SDxCentral DemoFriday ALERT: Register now for the Sonus DemoFriday: The Impact of SDN on Business Continuity. Join SDxCentral and Sonus Networks on Friday, June 19th for a live presentation to learn how to have business continuity during significant business disruptions.