Corporate WANs are an expensive, administrative nightmare, with lead times for bandwidth often running into months.

That’s the opinion of Peter Coppens, director of portfolio at networking firm Colt, speaking to Computing recently. Coppens explained that newer, better alternatives are now available.

“It’s no secret that most enterprise IT managers and CIOs hate their wide area network,” said Coppens. “The WAN is typically an expensive, administrative nightmare, with lead times for bandwidth running into months.

“But SD WAN [Software-Defined WAN] has arrived so quickly it has somewhat caught the industry off guard. Such is the demand for a tool as compelling as this that predictions from Gartner suggest that by the end of 2019, 30 per cent of enterprises will have deployed SD WAN technology in their branches, up from less than 1 per cent in 2015. SD WAN represents a more simplified and cost effective way to WAN and while it doesn’t act as a silver bullet for all your wide area networking problems, it does address some of the biggest pain points well.”

Coppens continued, discussing how the needs of digital transformation change what businesses look for from their WAN technologies.

“In terms of cloud and data centre connectivity, the phenomenon of digital transformation is seeing more applications and services consumed in the cloud and the ready availability of storage and compute is also driving enterprises to store and process more data than ever before. But it doesn’t matter how good your data or assets are if they are locked in the cloud and cannot be accessed securely and reliably. For many enterprises, public internet connectivity is just not enough so there is a need for dedicated cloud access as well as connectivity between data centres that is secure, reliable and high capacity,” he argued.

Rajiv Datta, COO at Colt, added that connectivity is now more important than ever, with so many critical services being hosted in the cloud.

“Traditionally, enterprise networking has been about voice, internet access, and IP VPN interconnect to sites, but increasingly core sites have developed different requirements – perhaps the enterprise data centre or corporate headquarters needs higher quality bandwidth in terms of connectivity,” said Datta.

“As IT infrastructure has moved off premises and into the cloud, and more critical applications are being run in the cloud, connectivity has taken on a different level of importance and criticality depending on the use case.  This is changing people’s view of connectivity based on the application and whether the focus is on latency, security, privacy, cost or any other requirement,” he added.