COVID-19 Response: Prioritizing Internet Bandwidth with SD-WAN
Apr 14, 2020
Sitting in her den, a woman logs onto a video conference call. Waiting for others to join, she chats with her colleagues about the coming weekend. Her husband, working from the spare bedroom, reviews a Power Point presentation prior to a sales call with a key customer. Elsewhere in the house, the couple’s son is using Google Classroom to review math problems, while his sister checks in with her teacher via Zoom. Once their lessons are done, the kids stream videos and movies.
Welcome to life in the wake of COVID-19.
Today, multiple family members increasingly compete for bandwidth from their makeshift home offices/classrooms. This presents a problem for remote workers who rely on bandwidth-intensive collaboration tools for video conferencing and sharing large files. In many cases, home offices have limited capacity to begin with. Multiple users running multiple applications compounds the strain and invariably lead to slower speeds and downloads, latency, jitter and faulty connections. For the end user, this translates into the dreaded prospect of launching a video call and having your voice break up or your face freeze on your customer’s screen.
SD-WAN technology can help CIOs address the challenge of providing rapidly expanding remote workforces with adequate Internet capacity. By prioritizing applications and aggregating residential broadband services, SD-WAN can target connectivity to critical needs. For example, if – as in most cases – only one broadband connection is available to a home office, SD-WAN can allow an employee to use a dashboard to select from thousands of applications and define which ones should take precedence over others during peak usage times. Much like a congested highway will clear a path for an ambulance, SD-WAN will provide the bandwidth needed to support the parent’s video conference, while temporarily sacrificing the child’s video streaming app.
SD-WAN can also aggregate a broadband and LTE circuit by treating the two separate connections as one big pipe. Moreover, the solution constantly monitors bandwidth, delay, packet loss and jitter of each link and routes applications to the link best suited to fit the performance of that particular application. The alternative would be to have two separate Wi-Fi connections that continually juggled the household’s different applications during the course of each day.
Enhanced cybersecurity is an additional benefit of SD-WAN for businesses shifting to remote work, as the technology’s stateless firewalling capabilities and alliance with IPSEC standards can mitigate the risks of home-based workers accessing enterprise assets through potentially vulnerable networks.
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