SD-WAN FEATURED ARTICLE
As More Business Moves to the Cloud and Cyber Attacks Grow, AI-Driven SD-WANs Pick Up Momentum
Digital transformation has forever changed the world as we know it, with the most prominent shift being the introduction of a vast array of innovative devices and applications. These new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G WiFi (News - Alert), have allowed both consumers and businesses to revolutionize their daily processes, simplifying and optimizing them.
While these technologies have made sizable impacts on businesses, software-defined and intelligently managed, monitored, and AI-enhanced SD-WAN solutions have picked up a lot of steam over the past few years.
“Today, the traditional model of backhauling traffic from branch offices to the data center for robust security inspection is no longer optimal, as it wastes bandwidth and adds latency, ultimately impairing application performance,” said Robert Sese, Senior Director, Global Strategy & Innovation at ConnX, developer of a fully integrated multi-service platform called Maestro, and provider of AIOps-based managed services to enterprises and SMEs. “There is a real need for a better way to send traffic directly over the Internet from branch locations to trusted SaaS (News - Alert) and cloud-based applications while maintaining compliance with enterprise security mandates, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare, e-commerce, and financial services. This is where AI-driven SD-WAN comes into play for enterprises.”
An SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that allows enterprises to leverage any combination of transport services, including MPLS, LTE (News - Alert), and broadband internet services, to securely connect users to applications.
“An AI-driven SD-WAN assures consistent application performance and resiliency, automates traffic steering in an application-driven manner based on business intent, improves network security, and simplifies the WAN architecture,” Sese explained. “It uses a centralized control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the WAN and directly to a trusted source, increasing application performance and delivering a high-quality user experience, which increases business productivity and agility while reducing IT costs. ConnX has been working with Juniper Networks (News - Alert) and leveraging its Smart Session Router and edge equipment for over two years, enabling us to deliver what we consider to be the most automated and intelligent AI-driven SD-WAN in the market today.”
SD-WAN technology holds transformative potential for myriad industries and specialties amidst the digital era, but the most notable pairing for SD-WAN is in the managed service provider (MSP) industry.
The MSP industry is one of the fastest growing sectors today, thanks to the large number of enterprises undergoing digital transformation, making MSP IT services a necessity. The global managed services market size was valued at $239.71 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 percent from 2022 to 2030. In comparison to overall IT services, Gartner (News - Alert) predicted the MSP market would grow at three times the rate in 2022 alone.
“Having become digital experts, aiding companies with their digital transformations, the growth of the MSP industry makes perfect sense,” said Karen Falcone, Senior Direct of Product Marketing at Juniper Networks. “Given the advancement of edge network devices, extremely powerful smartphones, the growth of 5G and enterprise wireless networks, and the continued growth of IoT, enterprises need help managing their IT infrastructure, processes, and applications for clients. From user devices and computers to firewalls, routers, switches, active directory, and exchange servers, MSPs are constantly looking for new technology to add to their repertoire and expand their offerings to win in an increasingly competitive space. At Juniper, we are constantly developing smarter and more automated software and smaller and more powerful network equipment. There is no turning back as these new offerings are light years ahead of the typical WAN and SD-WAN solutions we’ve seen over the last few decades.”
With an ML-powered and autonomous SD-WAN solution, MSPs benefit from simplified network operations and reduced network trouble tickets to manage across multiple customers. The solution also enables DevOps approaches for one-click deployment by leveraging APIs to simplify network operations. As a result, MSPs can rapidly onboard new customers, reduce the time to market with new services, and minimize disruptions to their customers’ business operations.
“SD-WAN solutions with secure access service edge (SASE) network architecture enhance our security offering greatly,” Sese said. “SASE helps reduce the upfront cost and the critical back-end overhead with deep visibility and control, easy automated management intelligence and insights, and most importantly, embedded security. Working with Juniper and employing their Smart Session routing technology has enabled ConnX to go beyond traditional SD-WAN and SASE with more automation, reporting, and closed-loop edge quality of experience capabilities and to roll out networks with tens of thousands of connected devices in weeks, not months or years.”
One of the most important benefits to any organization today is the cost-benefit SD-WAN technology offers.
MSPs today use a recurring revenue model. Services are contracted and paid for by clients monthly. The MSP is then able to better forecast cash flow and package services that complement the model. Until now, the telecom budget was a separate line-item and often an expensive one, especially for clients with multiple offices and locations.
“AI-driven SD-WAN has opened the door for ConnX to better integrate all IT services with telecom services,” Sese continued. “For example, many of our clients have been using expensive dedicated MPLS, which we are replacing with our AI-driven SD-WAN offering, using a business class broadband connection to replace the expensive dedicated line without the worry of a degradation in quality. With 5G becoming more available and affordable, wireless high speed and highly secure private networking is being designed to support more predictable, automated, and actively assured connectivity.”
ConnX, for example, provides what they refer to as “AI Active Assure,” a premium offering that delivers powerful monitoring capabilities leveraging AI-Ops-based predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities to identify any issues before they impact network performance and to provide intelligent data for advanced decision-making.
“Overall, MSPs that are embracing SD-WAN now are setting themselves up for big wins down the road,” Karen Falcone, Senior Direct of Product Marketing at Juniper Networks, said. “The world is moving further and faster into the new digital age, making any future technological dilemmas that much more challenging for MSPs. By adopting and leveraging SD-WAN technology, MSPs can simplify and enhance their offerings in a wide range of IT areas, allowing them to get ahead of their competition.”
To learn more, register for the “Gain Your Edge, with AI at the Edge” webinar, featuring both Juniper Networks and ConnX.
Edited by Erik Linask