Every CEO and head of a business think about how to prepare their company for the future. This is to ensure that the products stay popular and the company’s resources don’t go haywire. These challenges increase manifold when dealing with distributed organizations such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare. Separated by distance, businesses with lots of branches rely on communications to-and-from branch locations and the head office to ensure employee productivity, customer service, and run sales and restocking operations. Before the proliferation of the cloud, branch networks popularized the use of routers and internal networks to connect branch locations to centralized data centers.
However, over the past two decades, the web of networks powering businesses has become complex, messy and hard to change. The ever-growing set of networking hardware and software, which receive data from multiple branches and relay it to the central servers of a company, is expensive to install and hard to maintain. To add to this, the number of mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices has grown, while the sizes of the tech support teams that run these distributed networks have shrunk.
While expanding your business can be a nerve-racking process, adopting software which merges networks and services that were traditionally managed by different stacks of software will definitely reduce your worries. Such software, known as SD-Branch (Software Defined-Branch), is the next step in cloud-based management which can simplify the deployment, configuration, and management of everything within a branch location.
Reducing time to resolve issues that could occur at branch location is paramount as the number of branches increase. Businesses can focus on ensuring frictionless experience for their customers and branch employees. And, with cybersecurity becoming a boardroom discussion today, securing your branch environment would be of primary interest.
To address the needs of businesses in the digital age, enterprise software maker Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has created its SD-Branch solution - a single hardware integrated hardware platform that supports SD-WAN, routing, integrated security and LAN/Wi-Fi functions that can all be managed centrally from the cloud.
Using an architectural approach that simplifies the delivery of branch requirements, Aruba’s SD-Branch helps unify networks and services. Here are some of the ways businesses are benefitting from using this technology.
1) Faster launches
The most attractive feature of SD-Branch is operational agility. IT organizations can rapidly deploy and provision a network branch-in-a-box solution for new locations. Via a centralized management console, they can control and adjust all branch network and security functions and reduce or eliminate the need for trained IT personnel to visit remote branch locations.
Aruba has designed SD-Branch with a considered approach to the installation process, factoring in third-party installers, non-skilled installation personnel, and the need to create and leverage cookie-cutter configuration models.
2) Staying flexible
One of the most pressing challenges today is users expecting connectivity for work and personal use. A simple example of this is the growing use of Office 365 and DropBox for both personal and work-related activities on office bandwidth.
Traditionally, this was done by having in-house apps run on an internal server and having cloud apps running over the public internet controlled by SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network). However, the Aruba Branch Gateway offers organizations a reliable and high-performance option that supports broadband, MPLS, and LTE WAN connections. From a routing standpoint, this provides IT with greater insight into the traffic flowing in and out of each branch, regardless of the uplink.
3) Tighten security
It is no surprise that cyber crime cases have risen in the digital age. Ransomware attacks like WannaCry and PetYa may have grabbed headlines in recent times but thousands of similar attacks are launched against companies every day. Cybercriminals are increasingly attacking branch networks which do not enjoy the same level of protection and surveillance as central servers.
Cloud-based intelligence software can, however, identify potential security threats. Centralized policy management allows the policy to follow the client/user and eliminates security risks associated with time-consuming, manual management tasks for various network overlays and functions. With centralized consoles, IT can leverage established branch and headend rules to reduce the complexity of setting up secure VPN tunnels and establishing the virtual WAN topology. New security services can easily be chained with existing branch network software.
Aruba solutions support role-based access security that allows for dynamic segmentation of devices and traffic. The branch gateway then includes a built-in firewall that protects the branch from internal threats using deep packet inspection (DPI), and Aruba Central can be used to enforce web and content filtering rules. The software also comes with a robust partner program which offers the ability to leverage third-party defenses that sit in the cloud.
4) Simplicity and scale
Aruba Central provides centralized management and monitoring facilities, troubleshooting of gateways, instant access points, wired switches, and seamless integration with third-party, cloud-based security providers.
This software not only replaces on-site network management, but also gives a single pane of glass that includes wireless, wired and WAN configuration and visibility dashboards, traffic optimization features, and built-in troubleshooting tools.
5) Leave room to grow
Expanding a business often relies on a business’s ability to keeping costs in check without slowing down its growth. Expansion requires extra manpower, office space, licenses, and IT infrastructure, to name a few. Spend too much on expansion and you may get a lower return on investment. However, spending too little may also dampen expansion.
Aruba’s SD-Branch offers Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP), which allows IT teams to quickly and accurately configure and deploy infrastructure within a branch. Aruba also combines best-in-class wireless and wired infrastructure and management orchestration features with cost-saving SD-WAN capabilities. IT organizations can now utilize a common model, designed with cloud-based management in mind, to simplify the deployment, configuration, and management of everything within a branch location.