Putting SD-WAN to work in the Manufacturing Sector

January 10, 2020
Author: CBTS
Blog | Communications | Digital Workspace

For most enterprises in recent decades, multiple label protocol switching (MPLS) has been the go-to solution for their voice and data needs. Lately, however, as data footprints have become more complex, and traffic has become both heavier and more dynamic, this long-standing technology’s shortcomings are starting to hamper performance.

Recently a machine tool manufacturing firm based in Florence, KY, came to CBTS to see if they could improve their wide are connectivity without blowing their budget. Their MPLS service, it turned out, suffered from numerous deficiencies, including:

  • Rising costs
  • Inability to scale
  • Poor customer support
  • Poor visibility
  • Lack of redundancy

The key challenge was to offer an alternative solution that could be implemented quickly and non-disruptively while preserving the reliability that is the hallmark of MPLS.

In the end, the answer was a full replacement of the MPLS service with a combined SD-WAN and SIP solution connecting the company’s main office with more than 19 locations across North America. The solution provides excellent performance at lower costs both now and in the future as data loads continue to climb.

One distinct advantage of SD-WAN is that it enables users to access greater bandwidth dynamically. With its sophisticated software management, data loads adjust automatically to the appropriate set of resources based on costs, performance needs, and a host of other factors. These capabilities eliminate the need to pay for peak bandwidth at all times, leaving much of it idle during periods of light use. Also, this manufacturing company was able to replace its single-thread connection at each site with multiple redundant connections, providing high availability even during peak loads.

Another crucial factor for deploying SD-WAN was the desire to move more applications to the cloud. The company is a significant user of Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365, along with digital voice, and moving these applications to the cloud saves on licensing costs and local infrastructure. But these changes are only effective if the network is flexible enough to handle the bursts of application traffic over the long-haul. With SD-WAN, companies can easily support this cloud application traffic, allowing wide area networks to behave more like local infrastructure and data center environments extending over large geographic regions.

SD-WAN also provides greater visibility and control than traditional MPLS infrastructure. With its advanced monitoring and orchestration software, users can drill down into fine-grain performance data and determine where bottlenecks are occurring and then reroute the traffic to less stressed resources. In many cases, potential problems can be avoided up front, leading to a much smoother flow of data and more reliable service. Much of these adjustments happen automatically using increasingly intelligent algorithms, allowing network technicians to step back from day-to-day network management and focus on higher-level strategic tasks.

Looking ahead, SD-WAN also fits better with the emerging IoT infrastructure than MPLS. Manufacturers of all types are rapidly deploying sensors throughout their supply chains, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and delivery and distribution channels to drive inefficiency out of the business model. But all of this data needs to be collected and analyzed promptly, putting pressure on the enterprise to adopt low-cost, flexible bandwidth infrastructure across the wide area. By deploying SD-WAN now and reaping the benefits within existing IT infrastructure, manufacturers in virtually any industry can future-proof their networks for the data deluge that is just around the corner.

Rarely do businesses encounter a technology that produces immediate savings and better performance right from the start, but SD-WAN delivers on both levels. By migrating away from or augmenting solutions like MPLS, organizations will find the typical cost-benefit calculations do not apply – costs are lower, and the benefits far outweigh the initial investment.

For more information about how to improve your network infrastructure, contact us today.

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