The ‘Network First’ Thinking That Makes SD-WAN A Top Business Priority


 September 26, 2018


The new secret ingredient to developing a successful business emerged so gradually most people might not have noticed.

It started sometime around the moment we all began searching for information online through our desktops, rather than hunting in filing cabinets and banker’s boxes in a storage room.

It got worse around the time we needed anytime, anywhere access to almost everything connected to our jobs via smartphone, tablet or wearable device.

Now it’s just a fact of life – even though it won’t be taught in most business schools or marketed as a selling point by CEOs.

Developing a successful business is no longer just a matter of finding a great location, hiring the smartest people and offering products the market wants.

Developing a successful business requires network connectivity you can count on. And the most flexible, secure and fastest way to get that connectivity is through SD-WAN.

Here’s the quick definition: As an external network that uses software to connect networks separated by geographic distances, a SD-WAN might be spread out over a company’s branches all across a given country, or internationally. It automatically determines the most effective way to route traffic to and from branch offices and data center sites, which can dramatically improve network quality and performance.

The SD-WAN Imperative

In a story about a recent global survey about SD-WAN adoption by RCI Wireless News, the business drivers for SD-WAN were crystal-clear:

85% of companies consider SD-WAN as a way to increase security and minimize sprawl. The growing complexity of the network due to the cloud and mobile technology was deemed the most challenging part of managing and securing branch networks at 39%. Insufficient IT personnel followed at 36%, with challenges related to integrating across security and network products at 23%.

If there is anything stalling SD-WAN adoption, it’s awareness, according to 60% of those surveyed. In large enterprises with a significant IT department, this may be less of an issue, but smaller or mid-sized organizations without a dedicated IT resource at their branch offices may need help in building the business case with their leadership team.

Here’s one way to get started: even if your CEO or other leaders have no idea what SD-WAN is, they might recognize the increased move towards what business and technology experts call “digital transformation” or DX. These are the underlying technologies that have allowed emerging startups like Uber and Airbnb to disrupt entire industries, and for other organizations to accelerate their time to market and an increase in value to their customers, among other benefits.

In its Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, market research firm IDC forecast 17.9% growth in the investment companies make on DX between now and 2020, reaching a total market of $2.0 trillion. The biggest areas of investment, however, were not merely the software-as-a-service tools or mobile devices. Connectivity, along with IT services and application development tools, will account for half of all DX spending, IDC said.

To understand that ratio, think about how DX increases the competition for limited bandwidth. The only cost-effective and simple way to manage and optimize that traffic is SD-WAN, especially for firms who want to ensure their branch offices aren’t treated like the second-class citizens of an organization from an IT performance perspective.

Lee Doyle, who runs his own technology market research firm, outlined how branch offices needs are changing. Here’s his shortlist of the network connectivity must-haves of the future, based on an article he recently wrote for TechTarget:

  • secure WAN communication
  • reliability
  • zero-touch deployment
  • remote manageability
  • elastic scale-up and scale-down capacity
  • integration with SD-WAN, security, LAN and Wi-Fi

“Customer requirements will vary significantly based on branch size, the number of remote sites, geographic location, available WAN bandwidth, branch applications and vertical industries,” Lopez said. “Additionally, connecting a wide range of Internet of Things devices at the branch will also affect network requirements.”

SD-WAN You Can Use Today

Fortunately, Cogeco Peer 1 recently responded to the market need with our own SD-WAN offering in partnership with Nuage Networks from Nokia, a solution that will enable the network connectivity to support everything from digital transformation to the opening of a new branch office.



This is not only a mature technology, but one that doesn’t require a vast IT department.  A simple hardware device installation is paired with a self-service console to monitor all connected sites, where you can apply policies in a single view, optimize network design, prioritize traffic and reduce latency for critical workloads.

As more organizations reap the benefits of SD-WAN, we might even begin to see a shift in thinking about the technologies that provide the foundation for business growth and success.

When the Internet brought e-commerce and vast stores of information to everyday people, for instance, many companies began to adopt what was known as a “digital first” mindset.

More recently, as smartphones became something almost everyone carries with them all day long, organizations began to heed the new mantra for a “mobile first” approach to everything they do.

Even if it’s not described as such, it will be role of anyone who makes decisions about buying and managing IT in a business to begin thinking “network first,” because unless the connectivity you need is there, everything else will come second — including serving your customers.

If you’re ready to learn more about SD-WAN and how it can begin addressing your needs today and in the long-term, the team at Cogeco Peer 1 is here to help. Contact us to begin one of the most critical conversations about using technologies to achieve business objectives you may have in 2018.

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