The evolution of data traffic models towards cloud services, the explosion of mobile devices, the development of connected objects: these are all factors that are imposing structural changes on companies’ communication networks.
Finally, there are many factors that can lead to breakdowns, and therefore to partial or total interruption of activity: cutting of submarine cables, natural disasters, geomagnetic disturbances, theft of copper sections, wars and other geopolitical events, radio jamming, etc. However, certain industries, notably banking, have needs, and even requirements, for uninterrupted connectivity, whatever the situation.
What are the solutions to mitigate these risks? How to maintain an optimal quality of service in all situations?
An essential and complex network
In the connected enterprise, the network is the keystone. It is a critical infrastructure, just like all the other operational units that make up the entire enterprise.
Whatever the sector, the network is essential to the business, linking head offices, production sites and subsidiaries, employees and customers; carrying critical data, hosting business applications.
Over the years, IT networks have seen their complexity grow constantly. They have to adapt and take into account new uses, such as teleworking, new transmission media, such as LTE and 5G, new devices, such as mobile devices and the development of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). These networks also face increasing threats of malicious attacks.
The needs are therefore growing, and so is the complexity of the networks supporting all these usecases and devices. The use of multiple vendors, each with their own hardware and software layers, and the use of various transmission media do not always allow for an overview of the entire network. Configuration and monitoring become complicated and spread over many “black boxes”.
A basic approach to connectivity is no longer sufficient. The need for infrastructure flexibility, resilience and scalability is greater than ever to better manage, control and evolve enterprise networks.
What is at stake?
The stakes are high here, since the company lives through its ability to communicate not only with the outside world, but also between its different branches. A functioning network is the assurance of a functioning company.
It is no longer unusual for companies to have multiple network access points. For example, it is conceivable that a bank with many branches might prefer to use satellite connectivity (VSAT), which is well known for its reliability and uptime. But VSAT bandwidth is expensive; depending on the needs, terrestrial MPLS, especially fibre optics, could be preferred. This type of link offers higher bandwidth at a lower cost, but at the cost of sometimes less reliable connectivity, or even, in the case of fibre, no coverage.
Connectivity via LTE/5G can also be added to this. But these means are constrained by local congestion at the transmitting tower, and it is difficult to guarantee a level of bandwidth via this medium.
Modern network uses, which involve the global management of complex flows, are incompatible with the low bandwidth of VSAT, or with degraded terrestrial links, or with a sudden drop in bandwidth on a locally overloaded 5G link.
The issue, then, is quality of service. Some applications are more or less sensitive to network outages, latency or bandwidth; for the company to continue to do its business, these applications must be functional. Dedicating a specific link to an application, according to its use, would be ideal, but during a service interruption, its operation would be completely stopped, which is not optimal, or even unacceptable, depending on the business.
It should also be noted that many companies now use SaaS cloud solutions such as Microsoft 365 or business applications. These applications are then hosted in one or more datacenters, at a distance from the company itself. This further reinforces the need for stable and reliable connectivity.
A functioning network is the assurance of a functioning company.
It is then a question of implementing solutions to optimise the company’s network, take into account changing needs, take advantage of new technologies available to safeguard business activity and improve the user experience.
By employing hybrid network technologies, the undesirable effects of a service interruption or change in network conditions can be mitigated. By routing traffic over one or more links depending on the application, continuous operation is ensured, while protecting against service interruption caused by a particular link.
By coupling this network hybridisation with SD-WAN solutions, it is possible to control an entire IT network, and direct data flows over the right channel, taking into account its type, usefulness and criticality.
By consolidating all network links to the outside world into a global infrastructure, it is possible to optimise routing, offer specific SLAs depending on the application, control the entire network and minimise service interruptions. By centralising its management, it also becomes easy to control its security: via new generation firewalls (NGFW), protection against threats, regardless of their origin, is ensured on all links at once.
It also provides complete visibility of all flows on the network, their characteristics, volumes, and performance. This makes it easier to spot potential problems before a failure occurs. Selective routing can also be offered according to the applications accessed, an important feature when cloud usage is becoming more and more important.
By migrating the network to hybrid solutions based on SD-WAN services, it is possible to multiply the advantages of each transmission medium and divide their disadvantages.
By directing the flows to the optimal medium for its use, one ensures increased user comfort and, above all, almost permanent connectivity, since it is possible to redirect the flows via other channels if these are degraded.
A high uptime, via a hybridisation of its means of communication, guarantees the company continuous operation. Finally, permanent monitoring makes it possible to guarantee the resilience of the network, serving the performance of applications and the user experience.
A one-stop-shop approach, combining an interconnected network, relevant IT expertise and fine-tuned management of all infrastructure components, can therefore meet the needs of companies and guarantee an optimal quality of service.
For over 30 years, Sonema has been offering its customers VSAT, hybrid network and SD-WAN connectivity solutions, while supporting our customers in their hosting and security projects.
For more information, please contact us.