The confinement of most of the population due to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that, from one day to the next, teleworking has gone from being a utopia only within reach of a “privileged” few to reality for millions of workers worldwide.
It has also revealed that most companies were not prepared for the paradigm shift that remote tele-networking entails. Solutions enabled against the clock in response to the health crisis have proven insufficient to carry out many critical business activities. Basically, numerous SMEs (and some large companies as well) have discovered that remote connectivity requires more than just using cloud repositories, VPN connections and videoconferencing tools.
In contrast, the companies that had progressed the most in their digital transformation processes have not only adapted better but, in many cases, have come out reinforced with the new situation compared to their competitors. And remote connectivity is not only an emergency resource for when you can’t go into the office but also facilitates other activities such as commercial fieldwork, employee trips, etc. The companies that have been most successful when implementing these functionalities for most of their staff generally employ state-of-the-art remote connectivity technologies, such as SDN solutions.
SDN solutions – essential for remote connectivity
Software defined networks (SDN) are a type of architecture that separates the administration of the network from the infrastructure that supports it. This greatly simplifies the management of business networks, offering many advantages to big corporations, and also SMEs . Especially when you consider that companies’ data and applications tend to be increasingly hosted in the cloud, outside servers and data centers, so that traditional approaches to local networks make less and less sense.
In this sense, SDN solutions enable three basic requirements of remote working and collaboration environments to be met:
- Availability: the company’s IT resources must be available 24 hours a day, every day and from any location (this is especially important in the case of distributed companies or companies that have branches in several countries).
- Security: the company needs to know at all times which users connect to what services and how they use them; in order to prevent threats like data breaches, credential theft, ransomware or phishing attacks, etc.
- Reliability: any incident on the network must be able to be resolved quickly and efficiently. Employees working remotely cannot go offline due to a network failure or an infrastructure upgrade.
Among the different parts of an SDN are the SD-WAN networks – software defined networks in a wide area network. They are the part that allows the connection with the external environment, outside the company’s internal networks, SDN-LAN or SD-WLAN, and a key part to fulfill all the above-mentioned requirements. They combine the flexibility and agility of SD-LAN and SD-WLAN via the ubiquitous reach and connectivity of a WAN network. SD-WAN products offer a suitable solution to take over from standard IP WAN networks that have been used for so many years around the world.
It is not surprising, therefore, that SD-WAN networks have become one of the most requested solutions by companies of all sizes in responding to the challenges posed by the new business environment. According to an IDC report, the market for business SD-WAN networks will increase 31% annually until 2023, reaching a turnover of more than $5,25 billion.
And this report is from 2019, prior to the emergence of the coronavirus. But how can SMEs access this technology?
How to put remote connectivity within reach of SMEs
Small and medium-sized companies, by their nature, have difficult access to the most advanced new technologies, even though they can significantly simplify the implementation and management of business networks, as is the case with SDN solutions. Due to its lack of financial capacity, qualified IT personnel and specialized knowledge, an SME is unlikely to implement a remote connectivity solution on its own. This is where IT resellers and systems integrators can play a critical role.
These two important links in the technological distribution channel are also seeing their activity affected due to the new digital transformation. The traditional business based on selling servers, network equipment and so forth, is in decline as more and more customers choose to move these assets to cloud environments.
Due to their technological capacity, knowledge of the sector and specialized personnel, resellers and systems integrators are in an unbeatable position to lead the penetration of SDN solutions in the SME market (don’t forget that SMEs make up 99.8% of all European businesses). They can be the IT department that SMEs lack, offering them remote connectivity services, Software as a Service, cloud-based email, videoconference applications, remote working environments and other advanced functionalities, through an SDN platform of their own that meets this new demand.
For this, there are specific tools such as be.SDx, an SDN-based centralized management platform that incorporates both SD-WAN connectivity for remote environments like SDN-LAN and SD-WLAN for local environments. This advanced platform allows them to offer remote connectivity solutions, teleworking and many other services to their SME clients, which respond to their new needs.
If the situation we have experienced in recent months around the world has proven anything, it is that remote connectivity and teleworking are no longer the exclusive heritage of large companies or pioneering companies in digital transformation. All companies have realized overnight that their way of working must change, and SDN solutions are the key to this change.