Making changes to your business network can be a headache, to put it mildly. Take adding a new branch office, retail outlet or restaurant expansion. Every growing business is looking to ensure top productivity and communication across its divisions, whether they are across the street or on the other side of the world. But making that connectivity happen can quickly become complicated and expensive — especially when the sites are remote and involve various service providers.
It’s little wonder why so many Canadian businesses are turning to a new generation of cloud-based network technology for the solution. Known as SD-WAN (short for software-defined wide area network), the technology is already being embraced by Canadian organizations, with an estimated 70 per cent of businesses using or planning to use SD-WAN within two years, according to IDC Canada.
So just what is this new networking solution, and what makes it so different from what we’ve been used to?
The key difference is that SD-WAN relies on software that is largely cloud-based, rather than hardware, to build a network for your business.
To date, most mid to large businesses have relied on a “hub-and-spoke” type of technology where businesses have their applications in a centre, or a head office, and then they link out to branch locations with dedicated lines, explains Evan Frith, director of products and services for TELUS Business. It’s a tried and true system, he says, but, ultimately, complicated and expensive to set up, upgrade and expand.
In contrast, SD-WAN is simpler. For the most part, all it requires is a broadband connection or LTE wireless link, and it doesn’t matter what company is providing those services.
TELUS is the first Canadian service provider to introduce its own SD-WAN solution into the market under the name TELUS Network as a Service, or TELUS NaaS. Frith says it’s a game-changer for companies and startups in Canada looking to scale their business.
“The old model involves buying routers and switches so there are lots of equipment costs,” Frith says. “With TELUS Network as a Service, because you’re going to the cloud with your network, it’s a software approach that’s subscription based, as opposed to buying hardware.”
Charles Ferland, vice-president of business development with Nuage Networks from Nokia, which is supplying the software technology to TELUS, likens SD-WAN to global streaming giant Netflix. Netflix has disrupted the traditional cable TV model because you’re able to install it and then access the content you want to see anywhere, as long as you have internet access and you are a subscriber.
“It’s very similar with SD-WAN technology,” says Ferland. “You can use TELUS internet access in Montreal to run your network, but if you have, for example, a rural health office where TELUS isn’t a provider, you can get internet connectivity from someone else and still use Network as a Service because it automatically connects all your offices in a very secure and seamless way, just like you would with a physical network — only now it’s a virtualized network solution.”
Along with the flexibility SD-WAN offers, many businesses are also attracted by the cost savings the technology can offer. Frith estimates a company can expect to see between 30 and 70 per cent savings in overall spending when transitioning a network to SD-WAN, compared with upgrading their traditional network infrastructure.
It will also save time, says Frith.
“If a customer wants to start up new locations today, they could have lead times between 60 and 90 business days to deploy the older types of technology,” he says. “With TELUS Network as a Service, we’re looking at five to 10 business days for a permanent solution and, leveraging a wireless LTE connection, it can be shortened to a matter of days to set up seasonal and remote locations.”
Additionally, because NaaS is software-based it is highly customizable, allowing businesses to make changes as needed, says Frith.
The potential benefits of cloud-based networks aren’t lost on Canadian business leaders. The vast majority, 80 per cent, of organizations in Canada agree that simplifying management of the networks would be a significant business benefit, according to IDC Canada research. Chief among the gains, a new network initiative can allow companies to divert limited financial resources out of IT and into overall strategy and innovation.
Frith says he sees that sentiment expressed in a growing demand for TELUS NaaS.
“Canadian business leaders are recognizing the need to digitally transform their organizations,” he says. “To drive growth and innovation, and stay ahead of their competition, they need an easier way to seamlessly and securely connect people, data and applications. It calls for a whole new kind of network.”
Source: The Financial Post
Original author: John Schlesinger
Article Link: http://business.financialpost.com/sponsored/business-sponsored/the-cloud-is-calling-new-telus-network-as-a-service-lets-businesses-expand-networks-faster-at-less-cost?mvt=o&mvn=e9847a5131d74db78f7dc2d5f13a28da&mvp=NA-20COMM-11237009&mvl=outfit-d13+-+business.financialpost.com+-+investing
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