Andrew Halliwell, Product Director, Virgin Media Business

Enterprises are always searching for the next technological innovation that will boost productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. While many people rightly laud the potential of innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), it is readily available cloud computing that is really taking the lead role in shaping the future of businesses.

The cloud is a powerhouse for businesses, so it’s unsurprising that it’s gained so much momentum. In fact, the cloud is becoming so ubiquitous to our lives that even our home appliances – from doorbells to our speakers – are built around it.

But how can businesses ensure they are fully equipped to cope with the demands of cloud technology? Here, we explore the underlying infrastructure businesses must consider as they propel themselves forwards and deliver better outcomes for their customers.

The Onward March of the Cloud

Cloud-based systems are a must-have for large organizations. In a data-driven world, more and more enterprises are relying on the cloud for everyday functions. From providing total scalability and growth potential, to offering better security and increasing ease of collaboration or remote working, cloud technology offers transformational benefits to businesses looking to boost productivity and adopt growth-centric working practices. It’s no wonder that Gartner forecasts the cloud market to reach a staggering $214.3 billion by the end of this year—up from $182.4 billion in 2018.

 SD-WAN is transformative because it’s flexible, adaptable and empowers network managers like never before 

The importance of the cloud is clear when we look at many of the world’s largest companies. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook are all powered by hyper scale cloud solutions which have grown significantly in recent years: last year alone, these 5 companies increased capital expenditure on cloud data centers by more than 50 percent.

It’s the simplicity and flexibility offered by the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure that make these Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions so appealing. With global enterprises increasingly needing to shake up their infrastructure to keep up with more nimble digital disruptors, the adoption of cloud-based IaaS is only likely to increase. However, a growing dependence on cloud services for primary applications and functions within organizations is forcing IT departments to rethink how their traditional enterprise networks will need to change to support future cloud capabilities.

SD-WAN: A New Dawn?

The upsurge in demand for data shows no sign of slowing. Any business looking at their own cloud- supported future is also considering how they manage their data traffic and the demands the cloud places on their network. Enterprise networks don’t just need to connect employees with enterprise data centers, they also need to prioritize secure connections between employees and customers, the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms.

For these reasons, we’ll start to see an increase in SDWAN in order to deliver this cloud-first objective securely. We will soon see businesses optimize their networks, with new flexible, scalable and cloud-ready solutions like SDWAN replacing traditional virtual private networks (VPNs).

SD-WAN is transformative because it’s flexible, adaptable and empowers network managers like never before. It simplifies the management and operation of a wide area network by separating the networking hardware from its control mechanism, allowing companies to aggregate multiple types of network connections into a branch office, for example. Similarly, it allows enterprises to implement a software management platform that automatically prioritizes traffic and keeps key applications running, even at times of high demand. This means enterprises can adapt cloud-first, mobile-first solutions, without compromising their security or being slowed down by their network. SD-WAN provides the flexibility and sophistication that today’s networks require, including automating deployment, leveraging zerotouch provisioning and other technologies to replace manual configuration. This can also mean lower costs, increased capacity and a boost to overall production.

These new networks will be cloud-orientated and focused on delivering flexibility, security and application performance—all underpinned by an improved end-user experience for customers and colleagues. SD-WAN will work in the same way that cloud-based IaaS and Platform as a Service (PaaS) has freed up enterprise IT resources, enabling a greater focus on digital transformation and investments that add real value to the business.

What’s Next?

As more and more services move to the cloud, enterprises are more conscious than ever before of the need to flex, scale and manage their networks to accommodate these new services. Cloud technology has become so fundamental to enterprises today that it’s impossible to imagine a future without it.

Emerging cloud technologies are already transforming how businesses operate, but the truth is they still have much more potential. Enterprises that understand this are already investing in the underlying network infrastructure in order to take advantage of this. New network technology like SD-WAN will put businesses on the path to growth as they prepare themselves for their next digital transformation. 

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