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NOTE: VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud is publishing a blog series on business continuity and what we’re doing to support our community, customers, and partners amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out these other published pieces:

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The current global health crisis has changed how people live, work, and interact.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now forced nearly every country worldwide to invoke some version of “shelter in place.” Many organizations have either recommended or mandated employees to work from home. The workfromhome users need to access their corporate applications with the same high-quality experience as they would have from their office. It is a must for an organization to empower their employees to carry out business activities and to ensure business continuity. 

As a result, organizations are increasingly adopting SD-WAN for the home networks to support their remote workforce, given the SD-WAN software-defined approach and benefits. For what VMware SD-WAN is doing to support businesses today, check out our two latest blogs discussing our Work @Home offer and how COVID-19 has changed the way businesses use their networks, and this video message from the SVP and GM of the VMware SD-WAN business unit, Sanjay Uppal.


 

With the COVID-19 pandemic is top of mind for mosthere are my thoughts about why organizations choose VMware SD-WAN for business continuity, and how they can benefit from our technology.  

 

What are the customer challenges?

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, working from home became the new norm in many verticals, including healthcare, banking, insurance, financial services, and call centers. Yet large percentage of organizations are illprepared to support a large remote workforce. Many are facing the insurmountable task of standup hundreds and thousands of home offices in a short period of time. They must also consider how to secure, support, and manage all home networks.  

Furthermore, home networks are inherently different from corporate networks as the last mile is prone to congestion and the competing demands of entertainment, education, and now business applications often result in unpredictable and sometimes downright poor user experience. As the venue for work shifts, the network becomes more congested. Home networks are also unmanaged by IT, and security is often an afterthought with many home routers susceptible to common attacks. 

 

Why VMware SD-WAN for Business Continuity?

VMware SD-WAN is an enabler for enterprise global WAN transformation. It helps organizations to adopt and migrate to cloud with assured application performance while simplifying WAN/IT operations. Thousands of enterprisetrust VMware SD-WAN to deliver optimal, reliable, high performance and automated access to IaaS, SaaS, security, mid-mile, and analytics clouds.  

Our hyperscale cloud-delivery model is backed by thousands of SD-WAN cloud gateways in more than 100 POPs worldwide, which makes our solution suitable for deployments of any scale and style. Our cloud gateways facilitate not just the traditional network use cases of accessing corporate applications, but the rapidly expanding use of UCaaS and other collaboration services. SD-WAN vendors without a cloud gateway cannot deliver a quality experience over a congested last mile.  

VMware SD-WAN gives you an edge to rapidly empower a remote enterprise workforce, now and in the future. A number of enterprises have leveraged VMware SD-WAN to quickly setup Work @Home networks for their employees in the face of COVID-19, and more are planning to do so. From these customers perspective, the VMware SD-WAN advantage is distinct and can be summed up in ease of deployment, simplified Day2 operations, and enterprise-quality performancesecurity, and scale 

Ease of Deployment

VMware SD-WAN delivers one of the fastest and easiest ways to stand up a home office, reducing provisioning and deployment time from days to hours or minutes. Image a scenario where a remote worker without IT experience setup his/her home network. And repeat the scenario hundreds and thousands of times! How do we do this? Through Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP). It allows remote users to initiate and complete @home deployments by clicking on an activation link in an email message, providing the activation code, and pulling the configuration.  All this is done with no IT onsite or online, no pre-staging required, and no security risk if a home edge device is lost. Watch how to deploy VMware SD-WAN in 2 minutes.

Our partners, such as QOS Networks, have shown that this entire provisioning and deployment workflow can be fully automated – from API-based configuration of the Edges to activation and make it even easier than the standard Zero Touch Provisioning that VMware SD-WAN provides out of the box. Our customers are super impressed with theseautomated and simplified day 0 operations. QOS Networks demonstrated this back in 2018 for one of our customers – a Fortune 500 diversified financial services firm – deploying close to 5,000 VMware SD-WAN Edges in just over a month. With our SD-WAN solution, this customer is now prepared for the shift to work @home and is ready to expand their deployments in response to COVID-19. 

Figure 1 – Rapid Home Network Rollouts with VMware SD-WAN

 

Simplified Day-2 Operations

Now imagine that you have to manage hundreds and thousands of home networks.  Remember the cloud-based VMware SD-WAN Orchestrators – they’re designed to simplify not only the end-user configuration and deployments but also on-going troubleshoot and management of all home networks.  Application-based policies are pre-defined to provide a standardized template for simplicity and ease of use. Yet, these policies are customizable and entirely dictated by your business directives, allowing for flexibility when needed.  

Simplified day-0 to day-2 operations not only increase IT agility but also substantially improve efficiency demonstrated in the following chart from one of our large enterprise customers. Here is an example of the company that better enabled 5,000 agents to work from home by migrating from a traditional remote access VPN solution to VMware SD-WAN. As you can see, as the rollout (in blue) proceeded, the support tickets for WAN connectivity issues decreased (in green).   

Figure 2 – Support Case Loads vs. VMware SD-WAN Rollout

Keep in mind that all these are single link sitesAugmenting with LTE would further improve the trending and provide increased service continuity.

Enterprise Quality

As mentioned earlier in this post, home networks are different from office networks. They’re highly disbursed, with bandwidth-thirsty applications coming from many fronts within a home, including home business applications, remote learning, and entertainment. How do you ensure the quality of business applications as the venue for work shifts to home? How do you provide a highly reliable application access experience? And also, how do you protect your remote workers and data? 

The solution for business-quality performance is to prioritize critical business applications over others, such as entertainment and web surfing. VMware SD-WAN Dynamic Multi-Path Optimization (DMPO) provides the highest level of assured application performance through continuous link monitoring, dynamic per packet-based steering, and on-demand remediation. Deep Packet Recognition (DAR) leverages a database of 3,000+ applications, including Salesforce.com, Office 365, Workday, Zoom Meeting, and more, laying a foundation for application recognition. Applications can then be classified in terms of priority based on the business policy. VMware SD-WAN subsequently steers applications based on the real-time network condition and the available transport link to support the desired quality.  

Our DMPO works with multiple transport underlays as well as a single link.  Recent tests run of VMware SD-WAN with hosted UCaaS from RingCentral on a single link showed that voice quality measured by MOS (Mean Opinion Score) was excellent even at a 14% packet drop. In comparison, voice quality rapidly degrades, starting at a 5% mark of packet drop without our solution. This type of quality improvement can benefit any real-time cloud application (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams). 

Figure 3 – VMware SD-WAN with RingCentral Delivers 4.0 MOS under the Condition of 15% Packet Loss

 

It is worth noting that VMware SD-WAN delivers a quality end-user experience even for home networks with only one internet connection. Another experiment showed that Office 365 with VMware SD-WAN on a single link under a brownout condition yielded a throughput that was ten times better than that of a non-SD-WAN deployment.  

To achieve business-grade resiliency in a home network for mission-critical applications such as telehealth, executive collaboration, and Office 365 access, consider adding a 4G/LTE access. The 4G/LTE will help to augment a cable, fiber, or DSL broadband connection by leveraging the VMware SD-WAN overlay intelligence and DMPO.   

Furthermore, SaaS applications provide improved resiliency, and there is no better SaaS access solution out there than VMware SD-WAN, thanks to thousands of cloud gateways strategically located in the proximity of cloud POPs worldwide.  

The venue of work has shifted to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some predict that this shift will likely stay. Your business needs to be prepared and ready for this work @home trend. VMware SD-WAN is the solution to help you execute on this monumental shift.    

Be prepared. Be ready.  

In my next blog in this series, we will revisit the 5,000 work @home deployment discussed earlier in this blog. We will see how their network quality has changed during the pandemic and how VMware SD-WAN has performed under strain. Stay tuned.