SD-Branch: a big step forward in companies’ digital productivity

When working from home, the cloud and mobile devices are indispensable in our current way of working. Almost all companies have a large number of end-user devices in the company network. As a result, the demands we place on a Wide Area Network (WAN) are also increasing.

At the same time, due to increasing digitization, we use more and more digital applications, we see exponential data growth and the number of threats to network security is increasing. This requires more bandwidth, high network availability, security for it and fast time-to-market. These are features that many conventional network infrastructures can no longer provide. However, a reliable and high-performance WAN is indispensable if you want to ensure good communication between different locations.

Businesses operating from multiple locations must ensure that data traffic between locations is fast, reliable and as cost-effective as possible without sacrificing performance. SD-Branch can offer a solution here. This enables companies to optimize and secure connections to and within branches. Modern SD-Branch solutions reduce network complexity. This is because the entire network is managed and operated via a central platform. This not only increases the efficiency, scalability and security of the network, but also saves man-hours, time and budget.

Growing business network

Companies are no longer tied to one particular region for a long time. More and more companies are establishing themselves in the most diverse national and international locations. Research from techconsult, which also includes data from Benelux, shows that more than every other company needs scalable business networks (60 percent). In addition, the structure and security of networks are becoming increasingly complex.

Employees expect stable and secure access to the company’s network everywhere in order to work efficiently. Cloud services in particular put a huge burden on network traffic, but for many companies these services have become indispensable.

Companies recognize that effective use of these networks can only be achieved with comprehensive software solutions. Automating network management and control via software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) makes life easier for network administrators. Furthermore, available resources are used more efficiently in this way. Automation can minimize sources of error and make the network more reliable.

Is network security a problem?

Today, network risks are one of the biggest challenges for companies. But how can companies control and secure data traffic if the company opens a new location or if employees work from home? The European Commission is seeking more investment for companies to improve the security of their networks. But new vulnerabilities are discovered again and again.

For example, another cyber security survey by techconsult shows that in Germany alone, more than half of companies (60%) have experienced digital attacks in the past 12 months. Almost a quarter of the companies had to deal with this more than once.

IT experts cited remote work (36 percent), unauthorized solutions (31 percent) and the use of employees’ personal devices (30 percent) as the top three security challenges for their corporate networks. All three are perceived as risky and require a lot of management and monitoring. Add to that cloud services and it becomes clear that traditional network and security architectures have reached their limits.

While firewalls and end-to-end encryption are still the most important security features in the WAN, cloud security must also be considered. To increase security, IT experts often already use Secure Web Gateways on-premises or centrally in the cloud. In addition, Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) are used. In many cases, a combination of these two solutions is chosen. Cloud-based security offers a number of benefits, including improved scalability, increased flexibility and reduced complexity. However, on-site security provides greater control and transparency.

One step further: SD-Branch

SD-Branch is a newer concept that extends coordination and monitoring beyond network functions. It adds an extra layer to SD-WAN so that in addition to optimized WAN, all other network functions at all sites can be integrated. These functions can now be controlled and managed centrally on both sides of the WAN connection.

The main advantage of modern SD-Branch solutions is that there is more insight into end users’ network applications and equipment. This has become increasingly important, especially in times when people are working remotely. In addition, SD-Branch solutions significantly reduce network complexity and the cost of network deployment and maintenance by merging network elements.

However, to implement SD-Branch successfully, a number of important requirements must be met. On the one hand, the control platform must be comprehensive and well-designed to provide all necessary functions and network segments (WAN, LAN, Wi-Fi, Security). It must also offer extensive integration options and be scalable to meet increasing demand. On the other hand, a successful implementation also depends on the IT team’s experience with SD-WAN solutions and cloud-based networks. Both the architecture and design of an SD-Branch environment must be specifically tailored to an enterprise to meet security requirements.

Companies have realized that effective design of their networks is only possible by using modern software solutions. Cloud technologies can accelerate business growth by reducing the costs and resources required to support applications. But they also bring new risks to the company’s network, which must be countered.

SD-Branch has emerged as a new method to manage and simplify the end-to-end delivery of mission-critical applications and data across any network platform, device or location. This can be done from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world (including mobile clients). At the same time, it provides maximum network security at an affordable price that suits businesses of all sizes and budgets.

This is a contribution submitted by Ajin Ku, Country Manager Benelux at LANCOM Systems. Learn more about the SD-Branch solutions from the German network infrastructure provider here.

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