Remaining Proactive through Optimisation and Simplification

In the third instalment of our SD-Branch blog series we dove into the key choices you need to make prior to implementation that have an integrated impact on the project’s rollout. We then outlined CSA’s 6-step approach to an SD-Branch refresh. If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, you can view it here.

Once the rollout is complete across your hub and branch network locations, you may be forgiven for thinking ‘that’s it, time to forge ahead now with business-led initiatives.’ But alas, there’s always room for improvement, and when talking about the Branch network, there are always opportunities for optimisation and simplification.

One of the key elements to any network refresh lies in the cost factor. How did you pay for the rollout? How are you going to pay for the ongoing management and support? Most likely you will opt for one of two options – that being CapEx or OpEx. So, what are they?

Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) – Are traditionally defined as major up-front purchases that an organisation considers an investment. They’re designed to be used over the long-term.1

Operational Expenditure (OPEX) – Are traditionally defined as day-to-day expenses an organisation has that help to keep them operational. They’re typically regular, defined and predictable.1

Opting for a CAPEX route would incur a large up-front cost for the infrastructure and might mean you want to manage the infrastructure and day-to-day monitoring yourself. Whereas going down an OPEX path means you would be in a better position to take up a managed service solution from your technology partner. Aside from the cost-predictability and other financial benefits, this avenue offers a number of key performance benefits for your organisation post-implementation.

We touched on it during the previous blog in this series; “Through adopting a managed service to take care of the network management and support, our customers are free to focus their energies elsewhere, safe in the knowledge their branch network is operating at peak performance, is secure, and will provide the availability they need to execute and drive value for their clients.”

Additionally, with a managed service there’s always opportunities to optimise and simplify the overall orientation of your network. With the help of some examples, let’s take a look at them both, first up; optimisation.

Problem: Weighing up the value of an internet connection

Private WAN connections that use Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) have long been popular with large organisations due to the unparalleled performance, guaranteed SLAs and strong ability to adhere to security policies. But the market for MPLS is declining due to the growth of public cloud services, in addition to widely available and considerably cheaper public broadband connections. But although public internet connections are much more affordable, security and performance concerns still exist.2

Solution: Health-based monitoring of your internet connection

Aruba SD-Branch gives you the ability to measure and gain visibility into WAN health across each uplink, enabling you to better understand and control traffic behaviour and improve the reliability of your broadband connections. Layer 7 application visibility and dynamic path steering can help to improve performance and usage, while real-time health insight can minimise unplanned disruption. A solution that makes it considerably easier to adopt the cheaper broadband connection.2

Now for simplification.

Problem: The tried and true way to configure networks isn’t built for scale

A traditional WAN infrastructure is much like a jigsaw puzzle, there’s multiple pieces of on-premise hardware (firewall, router, etc.) alongside a varying number of individually managed WAN connections. This can cause a number of headaches for future scaling, with each new or ongoing move, addition, or configuration change requiring individual attention at every branch network location. When you consider the growing device landscape, the advent of IoT and surge in cloud applications, the notion of maintaining visibility across branch locations is a logistical nightmare.2

Solution: Bring home visibility and control to live under the one roof

Say hello to Aruba Central, a unified network operations and assurance platform that gives untainted visibility, and enables the ability to set up routing policies, and configure WAN gateway changes. With this solution, everything you need to manage your WAN environments is under the one roof, accessible from anywhere, and on any device. Not only that, it’s used to manage both Wi-Fi and switches, and with a CSA managed service, we even do the day-to-day management and monitoring for you. Simplification at its best.2

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our SD-Branch blog series. We kicked it off by exploring the importance of a discovery phase, before detailing the key benefits that a SD-Branch solution can deliver. From there we highlighted CSA’s 6-step approach to network implementations before finally exploring the possibilities available when you adopt a managed service for ongoing support.

Aruba SD-Branch is a comprehensive architecture vision that can serve as a platform for future capabilities and additional services. Contact us to book a free discovery and design session with one of our expert network and security architects. They will walk you through your current state and roadmap a best-practice design.

On-Demand Webinar: SD-Branch Overview

Take a deep dive into SD-Branch with our on-demand webinar. Click this link to watch it.

Announcement – SD-Branch is just the beginning

Aruba have just unveiled a new architecture named the Edge Services Platform (ESP). Encompassing SD-Branch, Aruba Central, ClearPass and all the infrastructure you’ve come to expect, the platform is designed to automate, unify, and secure the Edge from the cloud – leveraging AIOps, machine learning and automation you can proactively spot and fix problems before they impact your business.

Get in touch using the form below to learn all the ins and outs from the recent announcement and how the platform can benefit your organisation.

Ask about booking a free Discovery and Roadmap Session

About the Authors

Leon Slattery is Head of Network and Security at CSA. Leon’s security domain knowledge has been acquired over 12 years of experience in the IT services industry focusing on development and delivery of innovative network and security solutions for customers. Leon has applied his skills for clients within Utilities, Finance, Health and Higher Education industries giving him insight into the unique challenges faced in securing information in these environments.

Leon Slattery

Head of Network and Security, CSA

Marti is a networking specialist with 15+ years’ experience working closely with customers to translate business challenges and opportunities into technical solutions. Having a passion to expand his customers’ mindsets beyond the technology itself, Marti instead focusses on the strategic outcomes that secure network solutions can deliver. Marti has helped clients engage a mobile first approach giving travellers, sports fans and conventioneers memorable in-venue experiences, school students an exciting learning environment and office staff an end user-experience that motivates them to achieve their goals.

Marti Barber

Networking Specialist, CSA

[1] How Are CAPEX and OPEX Different? – Sean Ross, September 5, 2019, Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/112814/whats-difference-between-capital-expenditures-capex-and-operational-expenditures-opex.asp [2] Key SD-WAN Use Cases, Simplifying management of wide area networks. ©Copyright 2019 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP. AAG_KeySDWANUseCases_061219 a00075217enw [3] https://www.arubanetworks.com/solutions/aruba-esp/