Organisations are being forced to rethink their WAN architectures and data transport options due to changing traffic patterns and bandwidth requirements. Typically, in the past, most applications and resources were hosted in the corporate data centre and branch offices were connected to the central office via a hub-and-spoke architecture. Today, the WAN mainly supports internet traffic and cloud access, making traditional approaches costly and inefficient.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is designed to address this new paradigm by realising a more flexible architecture that combines multiple transport services. Through application-aware control and policy-based automation, SD-WAN enables real-time routing decisions based on network conditions and application requirements.
It is still a challenging proposition, however, to choose the right data transport system. Most of the discussion about SD-WAN has focused on the use of broadband internet connections, but organisations should also consider more wireless connections such as LTE cellular and satellite services when building a hybrid WAN. Below are the key use cases for these alternative transport options.
Until now, LTE mobile has rarely been used for WAN connections due to cost, bandwidth and performance concerns. Now these concerns are largely a thing of the past, and the use of LTE offers several advantages that make it attractive.
Speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s for stationary devices are possible via LTE. This allows large amounts of data to be transferred and supports interactive applications such as voice and video. LTE is already available in most countries, making it a good solution for places that do not have access to reliable broadband or MPLS services.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of LTE, however, is that it can be delivered much faster than MPLS or broadband services. LTE provides near-instant connectivity that can be turned on and off as needed. This allows businesses to quickly provide internet to new sites and temporary pop-up locations. LTE is also more stable than a wired network infrastructure, making it ideal for business continuity. SD-WAN enables automatic failover from wired to wireless service in the event of a failure.
Satellite services offer high resilience and have the added advantage of being able to connect practically anywhere. This makes satellite ideal for businesses that need to support remote locations and operations in the rural areas. Companies in many other industries use satellites to build a truly unified network backup that ensures WAN availability in the event of a disaster.
So-called Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite solutions, which use a small dish antenna to send and receive transmissions from a satellite, are most used for all WAN transport. VSAT services with dedicated bandwidth are ideal for large enterprises with numerous locations and high-priority applications. Shared bandwidth services, where customers 'compete' for the available bandwidth, are a cost-effective option for businesses with lower requirements. However, satellite transmission is significantly more expensive than other data transport services.
Use Case - Retail
Retail organisations are one of the most demanding industries of all. They have to deal with many different challenges, from reducing costs to managing inventory and staffing levels to complying with state and federal regulations.
Retailers are looking for new ways to keep up with their competitors. One way is to deploy a Wireless-WAN as part of an SD-WAN over LTE and satellite solution. This allows them to connect shops and headquarters that are not connected via broadband or MPLS links.
Use cases for Wireless-WAN in retail include:
- Connecting remote shops and warehouses
- Connecting regional shops
- Connecting regional headquarters
- Providing a backup network connection
Wireless-WAN includes Hughes SD-WAN ActiveTech technology, which enables the use of an internet connection over VSAT and LTE. SD-WAN with ActiveTech capabilities over LTE and a satellite connection is a game changer for retail and other industries.
In general, ActiveTech SD-WAN is more cost-effective and reliable than other options. It is also able to bypass bottlenecks in traditional networks, resulting in a significant improvement in overall quality of service by advanced SD-WAN features.
More on the important features of ActiveTech:
- Enhanced connectivity
- Responsive HTTPS web browsing
- Low latency VPN connectivity
- Support for real-time applications
- Agile packet-based switching over satellite or LTE
- Increased performance
- Faster than standalone LTE and slower fixed networks
- High availability
- Routing around downed or degraded connectivity
- Lower costs
- Manage data usage
- Shifting mass downloads to VSAT
Wireless-WAN is the ideal solution of choice that provides bandwidth with truly flexible geographical coverage and a unified network with back-up and advanced SD-WAN features. Wireless-WAN using LTE and satellite is a great solution for any retail outlet or small branch.
To explore how Wireless-WAN can support your multi-site organisation, please get in touch with our team.