SD-WAN has a lot of potential to help distributed organizations squeeze more utility out of their technology spending. This technology sorts and optimizes complex network traffic, allowing organizations to deploy bandwidth-hungry solutions over a broader number of networking products. For example, a retailer could use an appropriate SD-WAN tool to implement cloud communications in all its locations without purchasing costly private-circuit network connectivity for each physical space.
With that said, private-sector businesses aren't the only organizations with a distributed model or a need for efficient technological spending. For schools, universities, and other public and private educational institutions, the ability to do more with less is a trait of successful organizations at best, and a bare-minimum necessity at worst. Getting a handle on a changing technology landscape while maintaining a tenable financial situation is a serious challenge. Whether it's introducing efficiencies or opening doors, SD-WAN can help do both.
Distribution and the Challenges of the Cloud
Cloud technology has grown too useful for educational institutions to ignore. It can be a teaching tool, a study aid, and a method for multiple locations to project a single face all at once. A high school and vocational center looking to consolidate and share data on traveling students, for instance, could greatly benefit from something as simple as a shared database. On the other hand, teachers and students alike benefit daily from advancements such as cloud storage and aren't averse to going outside their organizations if the schools themselves don't offer solutions.
However, increased reliance on cloud solutions for business also means increased need for bandwidth. Even with discounting programs such as E-Rate — which not all schools are eligible for — telecommunications costs can pose a significant hurdle for schools, forcing many to choose one of the following three suboptimal options:
- Getting the cloud technology they want and overspending for bandwidth to support it
- Foregoing cloud technology they want to keep their telecom spending low
- Attempting to shoehorn too many cloud services onto insufficient network resources, resulting in poor performance or even outages
Availability may further restrict a system's ability to introduce cloud tools. Schools serving rural areas may find themselves unable to deploy the same solutions available to locations with more networking options. In addition, regular networks are largely unable to tell the difference between one type of traffic and another. Without the right tools in place, schools are unable to prioritize the information their endpoints transmit.
How the Right SD-WAN Tool Can Help
Concerns about cloud services give SD-WAN inherent value. By letting schools — and, indeed, entire systems — make more efficient use of their network resources, the technology can open doors previously thought unavailable, ultimately helping educational bodies meet their varied financial and technological needs in the process.
Many of these upsides come from the technology's previously mentioned ability to shape and prioritize traffic. A school that recently replaced its traditional PBX with a fuller-featured, less-expensive cloud communication system could see even better returns on its investment by dropping to a package made possible by SD-WAN. Another system, fearing the addition of a cloud storage service for its thousands of students would wreak congestive havoc and diminish other cloud services, could use the tools to optimize and prioritize usage at each of its locations, opening the door to savings and better tools for its students.
More, individual schools with smaller student bases could use the technology to move away from costly high-end data solutions, allowing them to maintain the cloud-based services their students and staff rely on while drastically cutting costs.
SD-WAN's ease of administration can also be useful to distributed educational organizations. By maintaining a simplified, internet-based network of physical locations with an SD-WAN tool, IT teams for individual schools and their overarching systems have a much easier job keeping everyone connected. Meanwhile, schools and systems themselves save money compared to standard methods of connecting distributed locations.
The idea of doing more with less is a guiding aspect of the average school's philosophy. While cloud-based tools can certainly help achieve this goal, there's little question they can bring challenges all their own, particularly where bandwidth requirements are involved. Considering these points, the right SD-WAN tool can represent a next step for schools that have already embraced the cloud — and a strong motivation for those that have lagged behind due to financial or geographical concerns. Whatever way your school's relationship with the cloud has developed, give it a look.
Does your school's current cloud deployment make the grade? Are you looking for ways to improve it? Visit Vonage Business to learn about its SmartWAN solution and more.