Traditionally, IT teams have treated business continuity with a reactive approach: responding to situations involving cyber security, a severe weather attack, and even sluggish network performance with a putting-out-fires strategy. They work case by case, working to restore networks and productivity even among enterprises with a business continuity plan in place.
With more workers than ever logging on from home, continuity becomes a more central concern. Continuous connectivity is as essential to business processes as electricity, with businesses unable to complete any work without the network.
The Cost of Downtime: The cost of network outages cannot be quantified simply by estimating the dollars lost during the hours the network is down. A business has the added complications of its reputation as well as the potential for customers to choose a competitor out of convenience. For industries like finance or health care, the consequences can multiply. It is nearly impossible to quantify the true cost of downtime.
The Shortcomings of MPLS: Multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) is a secure, reliable network pathway that supports business-critical applications over connections separate from the public internet. The downside to MPLS is that it becomes a costly way to meet high bandwidth requirements as enterprises switch to cloud solutions. In addition, most MPLS lines are connected to the central data center, requiring networks to backhaul traffic for security purposes.
With more workers in remote settings, MPLS is likely to become all but obsolete. Network traffic is increasingly being re-architected to serve apps and services in the cloud, as well as multi-cloud and hybrid environments. The addition of personal devices also has MPLS use on the decline.
Unified Communications for Business Continuity: In order to provide home-based employees with necessary tools, enterprises are replacing outdated, premise-based communications tools with unified communications. These solutions not only provide voice, video, and conferencing abilities, but also equip teams with collaboration tools, such as shared documents and status indicators. Decisions are made more quickly and with all the necessary voices.
Unified communications, perhaps more than any other cloud-based technology, requires reliable connectivity with high bandwidth volumes. Latency and congestion are particularly sensitive challenges for voice and video calls.
From a business continuity standpoint, unified communications is a critical step toward allowing employees to work any time and from anywhere. If they have a network connection, they can log in and be productive.
SD-WAN for Network Management and Reliability: In a move that boosts business continuity plans, improves security, and eases the labor load on network teams, enterprises are implementing software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). This virtual overlay on the physical network provides a centralized dashboard for network teams to engage in zero-touch provisioning of network resources.
With SD-WAN, enterprises replace or augment MPLS lines with additional pathways that offer cost-effective alternatives for less business-critical applications. When latency or congestion has the potential to impact the transmission, SD-WAN uses predetermined policies to reroute traffic to the next-best pathway.
In addition, traffic can be segmented according to bandwidth demands, business policy, user, or application types, allowing any cyber security threat to be isolated and mitigated without disrupting connectivity across the network.
Perhaps most importantly for business continuity concerns, SD-WAN offers inherent failover, directing traffic to alternative pathways when any given connectivity option is unavailable.If you’re considering the advantages of SD-WAN for business continuity purposes, contact us at Access Tech. We can help you evaluate your network needs and determine the right solution for supporting your business.