The way we work is changing. Modern offices continue to adopt flexible work options. Gigantic shared real-time electronic whiteboards, hi-def video conferencing, online cloud-based collaboration applications, and online document sharing are becoming ubiquitous. Offices of the future are already looking at augmented reality and voice recognition to realize tantalizing possibilities. High-end lighting, air filtering, temperature control, security systems, biometric credential technology, and other gizmos are finding their way into the workplace. These systems require unparalleled connectivity to function and deliver services.

Network connectivity is essential not only to deliver superior experiences but also to keep businesses running. Imagine a restaurant or retail store not being able to process credit card transactions during the holidays or a manufacturing plant brought to a halt! Businesses are increasingly relying on software-as-a-service applications such as Office365, Salesforce, Google Apps, and Box. Most businesses are also increasingly using public clouds such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. These services require unabbreviated connectivity.

Unplanned downtime can cost businesses millions of dollars. Analyst firm Aberdeen Research says that unplanned downtime can cost a company as much as $260,000 an hour while Gartner puts it at $300,000 an hour. System downtime can lead to lost productivity, lost opportunities, brand damage, and data loss.

With employees working remotely and accessing sensitive office materials in the cloud, it has become imperative for offices to have a top-notch security infrastructure in place. Forrester states that most threats and breaches occur from within the network so it is imperative to have a zero-trust security system to guard against all possible network attacks.

Network uptime is a must for any office to keep functioning and for employees to contribute.

Most office locations traditionally are connected using Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) in a hub-and-spoke fashion over the wide area network (WAN). Branch offices are at the ends of spokes and headquarters or datacenters are typically the hub. All traffic is backhauled to the hub over the WAN. This design worked well for traditional applications hosted in the data center with small amounts of traffic. Any traffic going to the Internet was limited to low throughput applications like email. Modern office applications consume much higher bandwidths. Most traffic today is also destined towards the Internet rather than towards hubs. This makes the use of MPLS unfeasible due to high costs and rigidity.

Modern offices require software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to provide them with connectivity. SD-WAN is a specific application of software-defined networking applied to the WAN. This enables offices to be connected to each other and to High-speed Internet service providers over varied connections like broadband internet, 4G/LTE, MPLS, and/or satellite. With internet and phone service package bundles becoming more affordable than ever before, it is highly likely that we will see an increase in modern offices embracing these developments. Furthermore, moving from MPLS circuits to low-cost broadband connections can bring large savings in costs.

SD-WAN provides the ability to leverage multiple connections to provide near 100% uptime to offices. The ability to switch traffic between multiple connections based on application requirements and network loads ensures superior quality of experience to employees. SD-WAN integrates firewall, load balancing, WAN optimization, and many other features ensuring the office network is simple, efficient, and reliable.

Simplifying office networks while providing superior connectivity can improve the office experience, increase productivity, and reduce losses. Traditional WAN and legacy SD-WAN networks can add huge costs by requiring expensive and bulky hardware, adding large bandwidth overheads, and poor convergence times. A SD-WAN solution that is free of tunnel overhead and runs on low cost white boxes is the best way to enable to office of the future.

As office spaces are reshaped with the collaborative ethos and smart environments – it is imperative to utilize SD-WAN to enable superior connectivity to office spaces.