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Blog · 15 Feb 2021

Why you need the power to refine your network

How to ensure your business-critical applications always get priority.

Julian Cross
Technical Architect, at Cisco

The traditional approach to capacity planning is really a game of ‘worst-case scenario’.

Network managers have to think about peak bandwidth requirements to give everybody in the organisation a decent performance across their application stack. And typically, they just add up all the numbers. If the peak is 10 gig, organisations buy a 10 gig circuit. Job done.

Except we all know that it’s never job done, as things constantly change. In actual fact, they’re then paying a fortune for a circuit that they’ll probably only max out about 10% of the time. Which means that 90% of the time, they aren’t getting any decent value from the infrastructure investment.

That’s where the dynamic nature of SD-WAN can help and save money: it does away with this wasteful approach to capacity planning.

Sledgehammers, nuts… and YouTube

With SD-WAN, you can buy a 5 or even 2.5 gig circuit, and the technology will optimise performance for important applications within that bandwidth envelope. Basically, you can refine SD-WAN network resources to match the application priority need, which means you’re not using a sledgehammer to crack a nut in terms of bandwidth.

And refinement is the aim of the game.

Naturally, your business-critical applications need the best performance. If you’ve got a lot of people in the business using your financial apps, your marketing apps, your HR apps and then a few people on YouTube – you need to give them some order. With the appropriate capability on your equipment you can make sure that key apps always have priority and keep the business moving. And then certain apps, such as YouTube, can be left behind a little.

However, sometimes what seems obvious isn’t quite so obvious after all.

For instance, perhaps there’s a time when YouTube actually becomes business-critical. You might have asked staff to stay behind to do some online training after working hours. In that thirty minutes, YouTube is probably more valuable to you than your core finance app, so that’s when you call up your SD-WAN partner – and you say “Hey guys, we’re doing some training at 5:30 every evening this week.” And because your expert partner knows the quality of service you have, and understands the technology inside out, they can tweak and adjust and refine your SD-WAN network to give YouTube the level of service it deserves at that precise time.

Just plug and go

Of course, in these times of Covid-19, having that level of flexible and cost-effective connectivity makes SD-WAN technology and the service wrap a lot more valuable. Whatever you need – whether it’s to connect a pop-up branch, a mobile service, or 500 remote members of staff sitting in their home offices – you can just drop in the SD-WAN device and get going.

We can use Cisco Meraki SD-WAN to project the corporate network into pretty much anywhere, and it’s so easy – just a little silver box that sits next to your broadband router or even under your kitchen table. There’s no client to install on the laptop, no fiddling around… you just connect to the corporate SSID on the laptop and you’re in. All communications are encrypted and go through super-strong proxy firewalls; in fact, the layers of security are commensurate with large corporate banking branches. But from a user perspective, it’s just a simple plug and go.

And at the back end, BT is working away to assure the whole business that its bandwidth and connection speeds are flexing up and down according to actual usage and needs.

Really, there’s no other way to provision a next-generation, flexible network.

Find out more

To learn more about Cisco’s SD-WAN technology, delivered with BT’s intelligent service wrap, get in touch.

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