5 Use Cases of SD-WAN in Manufacturing
More and more manufacturers are moving to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models which store data in multiple clouds. Traditional WANs are not able to keep up with the explosion of traffic that this brings. This has led to poor user experience, management difficulties, and data vulnerabilities. That is where SD-WAN comes in.
Telegeography has been tracking MPLS usage and reports that it has dropped by 24% over just two years from 2018. On the other hand, 43% of enterprises had installed SD-WAN by 2020, compared to just 18% in 2018.
What is SD-WAN?
Software-Defined Wide Area Network is a virtualized network solution that allows manufacturers to leverage a combination of connection types - MPLS, 4G/5G LTE, and broadband - to securely connect to applications. SD-WAN helps you manage networks more simply and with greater control. It safeguards the critical assets of your company when applications need to be accessed by a diverse workforce - like employees, partners, contractors, and clients.
The global SD-WAN market size is expected to grow from USD 1.9 billion in 2020 to USD 8.4 billion by 2025, at a rate of almost 35%. The demand for SD-WAN solutions is growing across every line of business.
Benefits of SD-WAN in manufacturing
Reduced costs: WAN expenses rise with the increase in dedicated MPLS required to power large manufacturers. SD-WAN provides infrastructure independence by using a mix of MPLS, 4G/5G LTE, and broadband wherever applicable, thus reducing costs.
Simplified management: SD-WAN replaces traditional systems with a centralized management dashboard where IT teams can control the network easily. This greatly reduces the complexity of connecting multiple users with multiple devices to multiple cloud applications. It also provides zero-touch provisioning for smart manufacturing with SD-WAN.
Increased agility: SD-WAN allows the seamless extension of WAN to multiple clouds which, in turn, optimizes performance for SaaS, IaaS, and other cloud platforms. With greater control over the network and simplified management, SD-WAN improves agility. Teams can move quickly and make changes easily.
Improved Application Experience: While traditional WAN can slow down productivity because of slow-performing cloud applications, SD-WAN optimizes user experience and efficiency. It does this by having multiple highly available and predictable active links that it dynamically routes traffic through.
Increased Security & Data Privacy: With real-time access control and integrated threat protection, SD-WAN can direct traffic securely to endpoints.
Let us explore these benefits by taking a look at some SD-WAN use cases in manufacturing.
Use case #1: Branch connectivity
Manufacturers that operate over wide areas often have sites in remote locations. These locations may experience poor connectivity when they are connected through MPLS. It also increases costs. Poor network quality affects the usage of bandwidth-heavy applications, cloud-based applications, and real-time applications like VoIP and video conferencing through congestion, packet loss, and outages.
SD-WAN offers high network performance and connectivity and is cheaper and more flexible than MPLS. You can get the same performance that you would from using broadband or 4G/5G LTE because SD-WAN uses path conditioning to rebuild lost packets at the destination and tunnel bonding that brings heterogeneous links together. And with zero-touch provisioning, you can use a central management dashboard to quickly bring users online.
Use case #2: Going cloud-first
Companies are increasingly relying on SaaS and IaaS applications for most tasks. And these applications are used by multiple people at multiple locations. Traditional WAN makes these applications slow and inefficient to use with increased latency and poor performance. Not to mention, it is less secure and more prone to errors.
SD-WAN can greatly speed up multi-cloud access for SaaS and IaaS applications. It can also automate workflow management for all major public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. This means critical SaaS applications like Microsoft 365 and Salesforce can be optimized in real-time with visibility and control for smart manufacturing with SD-WAN. And the best part is that this process is secure and error-free.
Use case #3: Disaster recovery
Manufacturers have large data to transmit over long distances. But due to the latency of traditional networks, these transfers tend to take a long time. Sometimes the transfer might not be completed at all. When these files are backups that need to be stored for data recovery and business continuity purposes, this can pose a problem. To overcome this issue, SD-WAN accelerates the transmission of data and ensures that all your files are easily and safely stored in case of a mishap.
Use case #4: Building a secure architecture
Security is one of the most important benefits of SD-WAN in manufacturing. Cloud-based applications are difficult to secure since they are spread out and vulnerable to network breaches. SD-WAN offers best-of-breed threat protection and makes it easy to monitor the network for malicious activities and policy violations. It also allows businesses to build a robust Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture.
SASE secures Data Internet Access and eliminates the need for backhauled traffic flows. It uses Zero Trust Network Access that assumes hostility and enforces authentication for all users and devices equally, thereby ensuring consistent data protection.
Use case #5: Maintain the highest SLAs
SD-WAN allows you to define service-level agreements for your applications and ensure that they take the best path possible through the network. It can do this by automatically routing traffic to ease congestion and allow mission-critical applications through. Less critical applications are deprioritized and moved aside. You can monitor this in real-time with automated dynamic path selection in the management dashboard. This results in smoother application performance and a better user experience.
Simplify your network
Spectra’s virtualized and centrally-managed network solutions help you build a strong foundation and become future-ready. Spectra's managed SD-WAN provides you with easy ways to simplify and modernize your network. Make your network agile and easily manageable without compromising on security or cost. Connect with our solutions consultant at spectra.co