For the construction industry, technological innovations have brought about extraordinary cost and efficiency benefits. However, they are also introducing significant management, performance, and security challenges due to the lack of a supporting network infrastructure.
Applications such as CAD, GIS, BIM, and other tools represent some of the most bandwidth exhausting applications going over the WAN. The increased use of IoT devices, drones, sensors and security monitoring equipment are putting a strain on unprepared networks. Run primarily on bandwidth-limited, expensive MPLS private circuits, legacy WAN simply cannot accommodate the needs of these advanced applications. As more applications are deployed, and new cloud platforms are adopted, the hub-and-spoke architecture with data centre backhauling is delaying application access, slowing down performance, and affecting user productivity.
With increased remote access and extensive cloud usage, the risk of cyberattacks is also growing, and legacy WAN network with siloed security systems is incapable of securing design assets and resources hosted on the cloud. Further, the complexity and poor visibility of legacy WAN’s hardware-centric architecture makes network management an endless struggle, besides the long stretched new site deployments that take roughly three to six months, awfully slowing down time-to-market.
Site locations cause a further issue when it comes to providing connectivity. A project may be spun up where multiple networks can be spun up, however they can also be located in remote, unreachable locations. SD-WAN can allow you to use a nearby unlimited combination of commercial broadband and LTE signals to create a robust, strong and reliable network. This is because SDWAN routes traffic intelligently. If you have a low LTE signal from one provider, traffic can shift to another provider or to a broadband link minimising interruption and increasing network availability. This provides a reliable network for your sites that are fail-over proof. To further complicate things, an on-site IT manager is often unavailable and unrealistic. A solution that is easy to deploy, manage and use eliminates the need for manual site visits and saves substantial operational costs.
In the pursuit of a modern networking solution that can help keep up with technology-enabled, new-age business models, engineering and construction firms are now turning to SD-WAN. The cost, time, and complexity of ripping out existing network infrastructure is not always necessary. SD-WAN can often overlay existing infrastructures, which can be cost-effective and deployed quickly, and work in conjunction with legacy infrastructure.
Top 4 benefits SD-WAN can offer the construction industry:
1. Always Available Network Connectivity
SD-WAN aggregates multiple connections of any type, such as MPLS, broadband, wireless 4G, and LTE. By leveraging all available bandwidth, SD-WAN makes the network agile enough to support more traffic volumes, and changing bandwidth demands. Doing so ensures continuous network availability and uninterrupted access to bandwidth-intensive cloud applications. SD-WAN’s multiple transport link resilience further helps significantly cut down MPLS driven bandwidth costs.
2. Improved Application Performance
SD-WAN architecture embeds application intelligence, enabling deep packet inspection by the network, beyond source and destination. It intelligently prioritises application traffic based on business-intent policies and automatically directs them across the ideal transport route. This helps ensure mission-critical applications are always running smoothly, even during network outages, further improving application reliability and quality of experience. It also enables IT to spend less time dealing with network complexities and have more time and focus applied to business applications and services.
3. Centralised Management and Control
With a centralised management and control orchestrator, SD-WAN dramatically simplifies WAN deployment and monitoring. With zero-touch deployment, IT can deploy patches, roll out policy updates, and strictly adhere to regulatory mandates across all branch locations from a single central orchestrator in one-go. SD-WAN also offers deep granular visibility into applications, devices, and users to detect and fix any anomalies immediately. With a cloud-based SD-WAN, organisations can quickly propagate or integrate new remote branches in a matter of hours.
4. Secure Connectivity
SD-WAN ’s segmentation ability enables IT to securely consolidate disparate physical environments into a single network. In doing so, they can classify applications based on business-intent and isolate confidential data traffic from the regular corporate traffic for higher security and better regulatory compliance. Additionally, SD-WAN also integrates end-to-end multi-layer security with best-of-breed features such as next-gen firewall, encryption, contextual awareness, and more. These deeper security capabilities allow construction and engineering organisations to steer away from data centre backhauling of cloud traffic, and instead directly access cloud data and applications, without fearing security risks.
Take a look at this case study to see the impacts SD-WAN has in the construction industry as Rogers-O’Brien maximises value of advanced construction technologies with the Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform and Unity Boost WAN optimisation