Jeffrey Marston


We are building our businesses in an age of digital expansion. With this expansion comes a necessary evolution of infrastructure requirements.

As the internet continues to grow and evolve in complexity, businesses are increasingly moving services and applications to the cloud. In fact, bandwidth demands rise 40% each year. As more devices connect to the internet and reliance on multi-cloud systems, data analytics and software-as-a-service tools increases, bandwidth demand will only continue to rise.

Indianapolis businesses are increasingly challenged to use their networks to serve modern-day business needs, but many of them are still operating on yesterday’s platforms. Fortunately, there are new, easy-to-embrace advancements in connective technologies that can help businesses overcome these challenges and take command of their networks. Using SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking), a company can create a customized network fit for all its business needs.

Traditionally, when a business needs access to the internet, its connection is routed to a data center with big pipes to the internet and various security mechanisms. But MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) connections are expensive for linking branch offices, so smaller locations with fewer employees often end up with a patchwork of lower-performance network architectures. SD-WAN enables centralized management of critical network functions by offering a virtual control layer on top of an organization’s network infrastructure, thereby reducing the need for costly equipment, shortening provision times and allowing for better management of traffic across a network. With this new technology, a company can connect that branch office directly to the internet with a less expensive gigabit broadband circuit — up to 10 times less than MPLS. That means employees in South Bend have the same access to productivity tools, capacity and network performance as those individuals located in the company’s Indianapolis headquarters — empowering everyone to deliver on customer expectations.

Software-driven networks also enable a business to prioritize its network traffic. A local doctor’s office was using an Internet service to send high resolution files of X-rays, which would take 30 minutes or more thanks to competition from other network demands like daily emails and YouTube. After the business implemented SD-WAN, its IT department created a policy that prioritized bandwidth, allowing for instantaneous X-ray file sharing. Processes like these can be intelligently managed through application-aware routing protocols that let the network adjust to the demands in traffic, as well as through scalable pipelines and traffic path selections.

Speed and security are paramount to the backbone of businesses, and SD-WAN provides for the perfect balance of both. Its technology comes with built-in security features, such as firewalls, intrusion prevents and URL filtering. SD-WAN also allows businesses to segment and isolate network traffic, keeping files confidential and protected against a network-wide failure or attack. A national financial institution headquartered locally decided to implement SD-WAN to help protect its customers’ financial information. Now, its employees can safely access and send sensitive files whether they’re in the office, telecommuting from home or even traveling, without worrying about security.

Whether a business has a staff of 20 people total, or 20 people in its IT department alone, SD-WAN offers beneficial applications. For a small business, using SD-WAN could mean easily scaling its network growth with the company’s growth. For a larger business, it could mean remote employees have a strong, reliable means of connecting to their work network.

Change can come with questions, especially when a small IT staff is suddenly in charge of an entire network’s infrastructure. Thankfully, SD-WAN technology can be implemented in phases as a company learns what features it needs more than others and what office locations it should prioritize. It’s also customizable — businesses can add or remove features, change or correct settings, and even modify security settings as they learn what works best for them.

Regardless of your company’s size and industry, there are technologies available today that will help you prepare for tomorrow. Armed with this technology, your business can take control as it steps into the new frontier — a digital world.

Jeffrey Marston is vice president of Comcast Business’ Heartland Region, which includes Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky.

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