A growing number of technology trends—from the massive influence of the cloud and mobile devices, to the impact of big data—are pressuring all types of businesses to modernize their digital infrastructure. Much of that pressure stems from legacy networking technologies that have been stretched to their breaking point.
Because data connectivity is the common thread that weaves all these new technologies together, successful businesses—including credit unions—must carefully balance their networking approach with their broader technology strategy. If they can’t strike the right balance, they risk missing out on all the agility and security advantages of digital transformation.
To put it bluntly, business success in a period of digital disruption depends on having a purpose-built network infrastructure. Or think of it this way: Attempting to launch any digital transformation without the right network is like creating a new high-speed bullet train without building the underlying infrastructure on which it must travel.
Challenge or Opportunity?
As a credit union leader, you can view this as either a technology challenge or a business opportunity. Can you afford to be at the mercy of an outdated or inflexible network? Can you ignore the enormous potential of transformative technologies? Can you risk falling behind more agile competitors? Or could you leapfrog them through digital transformation?
There’s little doubt that the latest technologies are creating new opportunities to broaden your business horizons and enhance your customer experience. However, this level of innovation is also shining the spotlight onto legacy networks that:
- Lack the performance, control, and flexibility today’s digital business models need
- Are increasingly vulnerable to security risks
- Consume a disproportionate amount of the IT budget that you could otherwise invest in modernizing your IT infrastructure
The bottom line is that digital transformation requires advanced “on-demand” connectivity that you can deploy quickly and cost-effectively. As a result, many businesses are turning to Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) to build agile networks designed to solve data connectivity needs today and well into the future.
The Critical Role of Modern SD-WANs
SD-WANs are purpose-built solutions that deliver agile, secure, and scalable connectivity by leveraging intelligent software. One of their main advantages is the centralized network orchestration, control, and zero-touch provisioning that provides high-performance networking within a “borderless” infrastructure across highly distributed enterprises.
This type of flexibility is critical for facilitating digital transformation. In fact, SD-WANs can leverage all types of connectivity options (including MPLS, broadband, 4G, and 5G) while automating network functions. This approach greatly simplifies your ability to connect people, devices, and locations to the cloud—helping them access the virtual functions and business services they need.
Your IT teams can also benefit by being able to abstract the complexity of the underlying network to create a virtual layer that simplifies network operations. This means they won’t need to manage multiple layers of hardware (such as routers, firewalls, and load balancers) that have historically complicated network management.
This is particularly important if you have a geographically distributed organization and want to simplify your branch or remote office networks. For example, with SD-WANs you can connect new offices or branch locations to your corporate network in hours, rather than weeks or months. This is a great way to quickly deploy new apps and services while controlling or even reducing your networking costs.
Agile, Virtual Networks
Combining SD-WANs with NFV can deliver even greater business benefits. By improving both network agility and efficiency, NFV allows you to utilize key network functions on an “as-a-service” basis. It does so by replacing legacy network hardware with software that runs in the cloud—a cost-effective way to modernize network functions such as:
- Firewalls and intrusion detection
- Traffic prioritization
- Network performance optimization
- Seamless integration of public cloud services
As a result, it’s much easier to reconfigure your networks and meet the data connectivity needs that lie at the heart of digital transformation. Best of all, you can do so without introducing unnecessary risk, complexity, or cost to your business.
If you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage for your credit union through digital transformation, you need a network infrastructure that delivers the appropriate scale, security, and performance. Embracing the versatility of SD-WANs and NFV can streamline your digital transformation journey and help you:
- Simplify your business operations
- Increase security to avoid business risk and exposure
- Respond faster to changing business demands
- Deliver a superior experience for your customers
Looking forward, SD-WANs help ensure that your digital transformation goes hand-in-hand with an equivalent modernization in network infrastructure—one that gives your business an ideal foundation to capitalize on your boldest technology ambitions.
Michael Cabra brings over two decades of business strategy, product management and technology development in both publicly-traded, large enterprises and emerging startups to Cybera (www.cybera.com). Cabra has helped to develop and bring to market cutting-edge technologies that have redefined industries, such as communications, networking and video/TV. He has held leadership roles at some of the world’s most well-known and highly respected organizations, including Sprint, Cingular Wireless and CSpire.