Visualizing a business-agile WAN


Businesses striving to achieve new levels of agility and the flexibility to pursue new opportunities are often running up against the restraints of legacy network infrastructure. It can be difficult to envision the pathway to the future.

IDG Research Services surveyed more than 100 business and IT decision makers to explore the drivers and obstacles impacting network connectivity strategies. Most are eager to modernize their networks but feel constrained by financial considerations and the fear of getting locked into proprietary solutions.

Overcoming network burdens

The typical enterprise today must absorb or outsource a huge burden of installing, configuring, and running wide area network (WAN) hardware that includes switches, routers, load balancers, VPNs, accelerators and firewalls.

But revolutionary change is underway as Software Defined Network (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) transform relatively static architectures into flexible, dynamic models that can match secure network performance with critical business needs on a per-location basis.

A new infographic paints a vivid illustration of the conflicts businesses face in trying to meet new digital demands with an aging network infrastructure. More than 80% of survey respondents indicate they are likely to undertake network modernization initiatives over the next 12 months.

Bandwidth demands driving modernization

With demand for bandwidth and new applications growing, network modernization is inevitable. Bandwidth is the top driver motivating evaluation of new network connectivity solutions, according to 68%of those surveyed, with cost reductions and equipment refresh each cited by 54%.

But IT and business executives want to limit capital expenditures and ensure maximum flexibility and adaptability for the future -- 46% view initial capital outlays as a major roadblock, 39% say that ROI is difficult to defend or prove, and 31% fear being locked into a proprietary solution.

The survey finds that 68% of respondents at companies with 1,000 of more workers are currently using Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) at the heart of their WANs. These generally require deployment of hardware-based appliances dedicated to specific WAN functions, such as firewalls and VPN access.

Hybrid VPNs

Enterprises can readily grow the existing core MPLS, while leveraging IPsec for additional bandwidth and uses like “internet offload” by utilizing a hybrid VPN approach. Hybrid VPNs allow customers to mix MPLS and IPSec VPNs on a per-site basis. This increases the network provider’s reach, permits a tailored solution for each site and can provide less expensive connectivity for groups of sites.

Furthermore, by leveraging best-in-breed cloud services offered by Managed Service/Network Service providers, these enterprises can ease their way through the transition. Offloading the burden of installation, configuration and running network hardware is something that 75% of participants in the IDG Research Survey would find value in.

How enterprises handle the transition to the new networking environment is a crucial component to success as organizations retool themselves into digital businesses. AT&T’s network solutions help companies sense and adapt to shifting demands, achieving competitive advantage by optimizing their business in motion. To assess how your experience stacks up with your peers, view the infographic here. For more information on VPNs go to https://www.business.att.com/enterprise/Family/network-services/vpn/

For additional information on SDN and NFV click on www.att.com/FlexWare.

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