In recent years, a significant number of companies across various sectors and public administrations have been undergoing or have already completed a digital transformation of their traditional communication networks and how they are managed. The purpose of this transformation is to elevate user satisfaction with the network and applications, while also enabling organizations to adapt to collaborative work models and achieve a healthy work-life balance for their employees.
The IT departments of these organizations are facing significant challenges when it comes to adapting their networks to meet the current needs of users and the business. One particular challenge lies in the management of networks, which is where technologies like SD-WAN come into play. SD-WAN enables greater flexibility and scalability of the network, while also providing an enhanced user experience with applications, regardless of whether these services are hosted in the company’s own data center or in a public or private cloud. There is a growing trend towards the use of hybrid WAN networks, which not only facilitate access for employees and clients to applications and services but also help optimize connectivity costs. In addition to these transformations, there is a need to integrate state-of-the art- tools that ensure network security and data integration in vulnerable work environments.
What factors influence user experience?
There are numerous factors that can influence users’ perception of network and application performance. These factors can be grouped into the following key areas:
Access and Availability
To ensure a positive connectivity experience, the network must be accessible from any location and available at all times.
Enabling access to services for employees, clients, or suppliers from any location and on any device is a critical aspect for both the growth of the company and user experience. Whether these services and applications are hosted on the office server, a data center, or in the cloud, a reliable and consistently accessible network is essential. This requires significant involvement from the IT team to maintain the network’s accessibility and functionality.
There are mechanisms in place at the communication protocol layer that enable traffic to be adjusted based the network’s current availability. However, deploying diverse transport networks using various technologies like MPLS, Internet, or WWAN, and different service providers, offers an added benefit. In case one network experiences a failure or becomes congested, the traffic can be redirected to another available network.
SD-WAN plays a crucial role here in effectively implementing traffic management policies that allow routing traffic, particularly the most critical, through the optimal paths available at any given time. This ensures the service performance remains unaffected by congestion or network unavailability, avoiding any slowdowns or service interruptions.
One of the most compelling features of SD-WAN is the ability to apply routing policies to different types of applications. This functionality enables businesses to enhance the performance of their most critical applications. With SD-WAN, network administrators can classify existing applications into specific categories and assign traffic routing policies based on their importance. Each application category can be configured with its own set of parameters, including service level agreements (SLA), WAN priority, traffic delivery mode (overlay/underlay), and quality of service (QoS).
This personalized approach guarantees a positive user experience by dynamically directing each application’s traffic through the most efficient route available at any given time.
Before implementing SD-WAN, it is highly recommended to utilize a Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) tool. This tool enables a company to identify all the applications and services in use, understand how traffic flows through the network, and identify critical workloads. By conducting this analysis, valuable insights can be gained to configure traffic routing policies for each application in SD-WAN, ultimately enhancing the performance of critical applications.
Flexibility and Scalability
One of the key factors determining a positive network experience is the network’s ability to adapt to future changes and evolving needs, without affecting the users.
For organizations experiencing growth, it is crucial that their network enables easy scalability when establishing new branches to cater to customers in different regions. When confronted with shifts or demands driven by the business, they will require the network and systems to be agile in implementing and managing new applications and services that improve their processes or meet market demands.
SD-WAN provides centralized network management, enabling the abstraction of elements like transport networks, information security, and overlay establishment. This provides exceptional flexibility in adapting to changing network demands. Moreover, SD-WAN delivers agility and significantly reduces connection and configuration times for new branch network equipment through the Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) functionality. As a result, it minimizes the need for manual intervention from IT personnel.
Another crucial aspect that can greatly influence user satisfaction with the network is the level of trust they have in the integrity of the data stored in the company’s systems.
With the increasing use of public cloud applications (SaaS), organizations are now relying on internet access lines in remote locations. While these applications offer numerous benefits, they also expose networks to increased security threats. To address this, it is essential to implement cybersecurity tools such as firewalls. These tools help prevent unauthorized access, protect against IDS/IPS attacks, detect and block malware, and safeguard the integrity of both proprietary and customer data.
SD-WAN provides network security by utilizing features like segmentation, which effectively separates different types of traffic, and generating encrypted tunnels (Overlay) to ensure private data transmission. Moreover, SD-WAN also provides a platform for network and security convergence, enabling integration with cloud-based security solutions (SASE) or built-in security features within the organization’s own on-site devices (NGFW).
SD-WAN not only improves user satisfaction with the network and applications, but also serves as a valuable tool for network administrators in a rapidly evolving landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI) emerges as a new ally in enhancing the user and administrator experience with the network.
With its self-learning capabilities through Machine Learning, AI has the potential to dynamically adjust SD-WAN configurations or alert the network administrator to any traffic issues with specific applications. Furthermore, by identifying security threats based on pre-tagged traffic patterns, AI can prompt the SD-WAN orchestrator to isolate compromised nodes or ports.
Teldat is a leading Spanish telecommunications manufacturer with a strong presence across Europe, Latin America, and other global markets. With 38 years of experience in the industry, we have specialized in developing cutting-edge hardware and software solutions for networks. Committed to delivering high-quality network performance and application experiences, Teldat designs and develops their own suite of proprietary tools including Network Traffic Analysis – NTA (be.Analyzer), SD-WAN (be.SDWAN), and cybersecurity (be.Safe) solutions. These services are available both in the cloud and on the client’s premises.