Authored by: John Tait, Global Managing Director, TNS Payments Market
People often speak of the desire for instant gratification as a negative attribute, and it’s true it certainly can be. In the 1970s, Stanford University in California, conducted the now-famous “marshmallow experiments” and found children who could wait longer for a small reward, such as a marshmallow, tended to have better life outcomes over time. When it comes to business data, however, delayed gratification should never be the goal — because waiting too long for data will result in a worse business outcome, not a better one.
As the business environment evolves, rapid, reliable access to real-time data is quickly becoming a critical requirement for staying competitive and furthering innovation. Analysing real-time data gives businesses the ability to make better, faster decisions; quickly react to changing market circumstances; achieve digital transformation goals; and implement new Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives.
Most businesses understand all of that. Yet, for a variety of reasons, many organisations still use legacy networks that are incapable of supporting real-time data and application access via the cloud — the key enabler of real-time data analytics. As more connected devices and applications join a network, a network must be able to transport vast amounts of data traffic between endpoints and the cloud without having to backhaul through the data centre. This is because backhauling degrades the quality of the connection, slowing network speeds and straining bandwidth — and slow network speeds quickly make data outdated.
Businesses must re-evaluate their IT infrastructure and ensure they have a network in place that is able to not only handle the data requirements of today, but also scale capacity to support new initiatives, new devices, and new locations in the future. As organisations review their options for modernising network architecture, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) offers a viable solution for many businesses.
SD-WAN: An Enabler of Real-Time Data
SD-WAN simplifies and streamlines network management and operations by separating the way a network is controlled from its hardware, allowing data traffic to be dynamically segmented and directed. This gives a business the ability to manage network traffic to and from data centres and/or the cloud, and various branches or locations, which alleviates network congestion and prevents overloading.
An SD-WAN thus also offers higher reliability as well as the capacity for more applications on a network, even bandwidth-heavy ones. It can be layered on top of any connectivity solution to securely move data traffic between the cloud and a business’ applications and devices, prioritising data from business-critical systems like payments and supporting the transport of real-time data from a multitude of sources.
Apart from facilitating real-time data transfer, another advantage of an SD-WAN is its ability to protect that data as it moves through a network. The connected devices that collect, process and analyse real-time data — as well as any points of interaction to and from apps or internet breakout — can serve as a backdoor into a network for bad actors. But because SD-WAN uses IPSec tunnelling, the connectivity layer is only for transport; data on the network travels from site to site, or from device to device, fully encrypted and unable to be hacked. Some SD-WAN solutions take security measures a step further and also include anti-virus features, URL filtering, and TLS packet inspection.
Finally, SD-WAN offers faster, more cost-effective scalability than legacy networks like MPLS. Many SD-WAN solutions providers offer “touchless” or “zero-touch” onboarding and provisioning, meaning SD-WAN hardware comes preconfigured with deployment settings. This automates and simplifies the connection of all devices at initial deployment, as well as in the future. As a business expands to new locations or adds new devices to a network, business leaders can simply add more internet circuits to scale network capacity.
The SD-WAN Advantage
Optimised bandwidth, greater reliability, enhanced security and simplified scalability are just a few of the benefits SD-WAN can offer a business. For businesses that must manage large volumes of data and support the transfer of real-time data, an SD-WAN configuration can be particularly useful. It provides adaptability, reliability, and flexibility — helping businesses achieve the instant gratification of real-time data insights.
John Tait is Global Managing Director of TNS’ Payments Market business. He is responsible for identifying and driving growth across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions, and is focused on meeting the unique requirements of TNS’ customers.