According to a recent Ovum report, SD-WAN: Accelerating Agile Operations in Asia Pacific, 78 per cent of modern businesses plan to expand into Southeast Asia alone, and 68 per cent planning on expanding into India’s major cities. For multinational corporations (MNCs), however, this comes with significant challenges relating to network topography, and a differential in IT and network maturity between countries in APAC.
The report singles out that western MNCs in particular, tend to under-estimate the gap in infrastructure between markets, leading to problems related to the management of internet and LTE, real-time resource allocation and data compliance. The report highlights the importance of working with a “global provider with good local knowledge to deliver consistence across geographies”.
42% of MNCs surveyed indicated that “increased adoption of public cloud services” was their primary network spending driver.SD-WAN: Accelerating Agile Operations in Asia Pacific, Ovum
The report found that there are several factors driving investment in networking, including the importance of video content, the integration of data into manufacturing supply chains and the rapid expansion of public cloud services.
The report also notes that retailers are using analytics on the edge of the network to improve foot traffic, with 25% of retailers surveyed indicating that understanding their customers better through data was their number one priority in APAC. Mobile payments and banking are also driving the need for network improvement, with Asia leading the world in mobile payments.
Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is making particular inroads into so-called “hot” verticals such as retail, banking and professional and business services. This is because they have a large number of branch offices spread across geographically diverse areas, all of which have their own demands for bandwidth and application flow.
With these drivers in mind, multinational corporations are increasing their demand for more network flexibility, including bandwidth flexing, remote management and network function virtualisation (NFV).
Alongside improved security, these bandwidth and network management issues are prompting multinationals to look towards SD-WAN. The appeal of SD-WAN is that it is an application-centric overlay network that is transport agnostic, enabling enterprises to set and adjust policies on application routing. It also allows the centralised management and orchestration of the network by corporate IT.
Put simply, application performance and application traffic visibility are the primary reasons multinational corporations are looking towards SD-WAN.
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There are several considerations to consider when deploying SD-WAN. The first is that interoperability remains a challenge when SDN equipment is introduced because there will also be legacy equipment on the same network. For this reason, open APIs are a critical element of an SD-WAN, as is the expertise (internal or external) to reconcile legacy devices with the new system.
It’s also important to ensure that the SD-WAN solution has visibility and control features that are able to configure re-routing, and dynamic bandwidth, as well as providing a total view of the network.
Another consideration is that SD-WAN was originally devised for use on internal corporate networks. Therefore, to thrive in a cloud-dominated environment, enterprise architects need to factor in the possibility that the network itself could need some redesign, and that they might require a third party to provide assistance in this task.
For enterprises expanding into APAC, it’s clear that providing application and network services across diverse topographies requires the use of SD-WAN to ensure network performance matches corporate needs.
The importance of getting the networks right for any digital enterprise should never be under estimated because falling short could include the failure to reap the full benefits of technology investments resulting in less than satisfactory improvements in business operations, productivity, and customer engagement.