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Satellite-enabled SD-WAN Optimizing Cloud Networks

Satellite-enabled SD-WAN by John Turnbull of SES NetworksJohn Turnbull
Director of Sales for Pacific Region, SES Networks

SES Networks

While many of you might have found yourselves suddenly becoming full-time remote workers recently, I have been a full-time work-from-home (WFH) employee in Australia for the past 10 years. Remote working has always been a breeze for me, given the access I have to the full suite of technology and tools required. Yet, while I very much enjoyed being among so many fellow remote workers, the vastly increased number of users accessing the very same tools I relied on meant that user experience and efficiency often took a plunge during peak hours.

What I have observed is that with significantly more users accessing the enterprise network and cloud from remote endpoints, it has caused a massive strain on existing networks due to sudden surges in demand as businesses in Australia and worldwide worked to implement business continuity and remote working solutions.

Across the satellite industry, some satellite-based operators were in a fortunate position to meet this demand quickly and ensure uninterrupted connectivity services. At the same time, satellite-enabled software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) service has never been more attractive. Much of the attraction lies in the technology’s ability to bundle and route network traffic intelligently and securely across a combination of available WAN access connections ranging from satellite, terrestrial, and undersea cable connections.

While SD-WAN service is hardly new to the networking world, it is something that is catching on in the satellite industry. Through SD-WAN service, ISPs and MNOs can dynamically and intelligently prioritize and route application traffic between its WAN access connections, resulting in resiliency, flexibility, bandwidth economization, and scalability.

Building a More Intelligent and Resilient Network
When it comes to business continuity, as we’ve just seen in the ongoing pandemic, most businesses and end-users are looking for solutions that help ensure network and business resilience. They also want critical functions such as high-availability and fail-safe mechanisms that allow end-users to connect securely and efficiently to the enterprise network and cloud from remote endpoints. Due to the sudden nature of the ongoing pandemic, ISPs are looking for solutions that could leverage existing physical infrastructures without the need to install new equipment.

In addition, many island nations and communities across the Pacific have also had their economies adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Economical solutions that don’t require high capital expenditure on new hardware will be ideal for them to meet the increasing demand for bandwidth while offering the best quality of service (QoS) at the best economic value. These challenges are very much addressed by the key benefits of satellite-enabled SD-WAN.

Apart from improved network resiliency and availability, other key benefits for SD-WAN connections lies in its ability to offer dedicated, secure access to cloud-based apps and other corporate assets, as well as assured quality of service (QoS) through network optimization.

In the case of SES Networks’ SD-WAN service based on multi-orbit satellite constellations, the service highlights the complementary nature of the fleet. Automated, intelligent application steering allows ISPs to control the application flow for different use cases depending on their latency-sensitivity. As an example, use cases such as video conferencing, where delays can greatly affect the user experience, will have to be routed over our low-latency O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) link. Non-latency sensitive traffic like emails can then be routed over the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) link. This also means an assured level of QoS for the network as it controls and manages WAN link utilization by setting priorities for specific types of traffic on the network. Many SD-WAN solutions providers, including SES, further allow end-users to gain an added level of intelligence into their network use through real-time analytics dashboard access.

In addition, satellite-enabled SD-WAN offers an additional layer of network resiliency to the network architecture. Where terrestrial networks might be affected by fiber outages caused by natural disasters, human error, or sudden spikes in network capacity demand, satellites offer an easily-deployed solution that can reach almost any location on earth, be it on land, sea, or air. Our long-term customer based in South Sudan, RCS, is an early adopter of SES Networks’ SD-WAN service and has been able to dynamically and intelligently prioritize and route application traffic between its MEO satellite and fiber links, resulting in improved up-time and optimizing resiliency and bandwidth usage.

A Cloud-scale World Requires a Truly Cloud-scale Network
In today’s cloud-scale world, users expect seamless, secure, and reliable connectivity wherever they are. With satellite-enabled SD-WAN, I am more than pleased as this is yet another way for us to help our customers, especially far-flung communities in the Pacific region, to optimize network access routes intelligently through satellites to any endpoint in addition to their terrestrial fiber and undersea cable networks. That, combined with the unparalleled reach of satellites, will set up our customers to be ready for a cloud-scale world.

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