For decades, private enterprise WANs have evolved ever so slowly. It’s been a long road from the early days of using T1 and frame relay for what was then blazing fast connections to today’s high-capacity MPLS networks. Speeds have increased, yet WANs are often costly, vulnerable to threats and prone to outages.
Today, enterprise WANs are experiencing an urgent need for transformation. The pandemic accelerated the pivot to remote work and adoption of cloud applications and services which placed even greater expectations on digital experiences. Operational pressures are increasing and cyber threats are spiking. Luckily, innovations like AI, SD-WAN and the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) have emerged that promise to transform the enterprise WAN as we know it.
With so many customer and employee experiences relying on a digital infrastructure, there’s no room for downtime, maintenance windows or errors that lead to unplanned outages. The enterprise WAN must be ready for anything.
Four Characteristics of a Modern Enterprise WAN
Enterprise WANs must be flexible, agile, secure and resilient. Organizations must be confident that their enterprise networks—no matter how far they extend—will adapt to changing requirements, proactively secure and protect the business, be operationally efficient and deliver a superior user experience to employees, partners and customers.
1. Private WANs must be flexible. Business requirements are always changing and IT leaders can never be sure what unforeseen requirement may be around the corner. However, bandwidth consumption continues to climb. In 2019, WAN bandwidth was already growing by 30% annually—and that was before the pandemic. The number of IoT devices and sensors streaming data across the network is also growing rapidly as organizations shift to automated, real-time operations.
Businesses need enterprise routing platforms that will adapt to different uses, whether that’s connecting remote locations, data centers or WAN aggregation. That flexibility must also extend to how IT leaders acquire and manage enterprise routing capabilities, whether it’s a traditional CapEx purchase or a pay-as-you-grow licensing.
2. WAN configuration and operations must be automated. The pandemic increased the pressure on IT teams to do more with less, and automation offers the way forward to more scalable operations. Enterprises need modern routing platforms that can provide end-to-end visibility, pinpoint potential problems and take action when necessary. The combined power of predictive analytics, automated actions and network telemetry can assure user experiences in real time and reduce the workload of network support teams.
3. Security must be built in, not bolted on. By now, employees around the globe have settled into their work from home routines—and that includes cybercriminals who have more opportunities than ever to intercept valuable data, disrupt operations or chip away at customer trust.
Security must be woven into the fabric of the enterprise WAN, with built-in defense that automatically protects users, applications and infrastructure anywhere and everywhere. A changes the dynamic, enforcing security policies across every point of connection from home offices and branch offices, to headquarters, data centers and cloud instances.
4. Private WANs must be ultra-resilient.There’s no margin for error in a digital world. Fleeting delays cause user frustration and business operations—from sending an important email to retail purchases to robotic manufacturing lines—can’t stop.
The very foundation of an enterprise WAN is a highly resilient routing platform that has been designed from every angle to deliver a resilient, redundant and unstoppable network. Analytics and automation can stave off issues before they impact the user experience, with real-time network telemetry, automated health and diagnostics and service assurance.
At Juniper, we’re excited about the future of enterprise WAN and the possibilities it offers organizations to improve user experiences.
Gain insight into the future of the enterprise WAN and prepare for whatever comes next. Join us for Part Two in our roundtable webinar, Enterprise WAN Strategies for Success, on April 6 at 9 am PDT with industry experts.