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The Connectivity Circle - Key Takeaways (Part 2)

Elekta’s SD-WAN journey: Lessons learned and best practices.

A few days before the Christmas break, we had the pleasure of hosting the first edition of the Connectivity Circle– a community of network professionals and business leaders gathered to discuss the present and future of enterprise networks.

In the first part of this post, I started sharing some of the takeaways I got from this day related to the first two presentations: China’s complex internet landscape and The middle mile. Today, I’d like to share some of the key thoughts that came out of the panel discussion we held around Elekta’s SD-WAN journey. These might be particularly interesting for enterprises who are transitioning to SD-WAN and considering replacing, partially or fully, their MPLS-based networks.

1. It’s no longer about why SD-WAN, but when.

The benefits are clear and widely documented. SD-WAN helps enterprises with improving performance, flexibility and reliability. Moreover, in Elekta’s experience, whose MPLS has been fully replaced by internet, it has also proven to be notably cost-efficient.

In addition to these benefits, it’s important to stop and consider your options. There are over 70 SD-WAN technologies in the market (though only 4 or 5 are the ones that keep coming up). When choosing an SD-WAN solution, look for scalability, its ability to make integrations within your network, the availability across all your sites and your specific business requirements. Once you have down-selected to a few options, you can move to the second point…

“When choosing an SD-WAN solution, look for scalability, its ability to make integrations within your network, the availability across all your sites and your specific business requirements.”

2. Take the challenging Proof of Concept (PoC) path.

Elekta’s PoC was highly valuable in their decision-making process, as well as further in their transition. They chose to do a proof of concept in their most difficult locations knowing that if this worked, other sites wouldn’t be an issue. Our Dutch-based SD-WAN implementation partner, Videns IT, confirmed this also helps companies to see an immediate difference in performance when comparing to MPLS.

After that successful PoC, Elekta continued to grow the solution from there. This also allowed for a quicker transition and full deployment to a global SD-WAN.

“They chose to do a proof of concept in their most difficult locations knowing that if this worked, other sites wouldn’t be an issue.”

3. And remember: SD-WAN is not magic – the first and middle mile.

During the panel, we couldn’t avoid talking about two items which are key when dealing with overlay solutions: the underlay and its transition from MPLS to internet (and if we should consider DIA, broadband or both), and the middle mile.

From working with different customers and in Elekta’s own experience, the benefit of replacing MPLS with DIA was quite obvious: comparable, or even better, resilience and bandwidth at a much lower cost. We also acknowledged that many companies are taking different approaches. One is to leave their critical applications with MPLS, others are moving fully to DIA, while others take DIA as the primary option, leaving broadband for back-up functions.

Finally, we at the panel were able to agree that a middle mile solution could assist globally dispersed enterprises to take full advantage of SD-WAN technologies. The reasons were already discussed in my previous post.

4. One more point: Security.

Though we didn’t stay too long on this point, I was very pleased to hear Elekta’s comments about the confidence it had on the security aspect of their SD-WAN based solution.

As a manufacturer of medical devices, Elekta pays great attention and has very high standards when it comes to security, confidentiality and data privacy of customers, vendors and patients. In this regard, they see no unmanageable risks in their full-internet solution and continue to be fully compliant with all existing regulations around the world.

And the journey continues.

At Globalinternet, we are proud to have Elekta as one of our first customers, a leader in their industry and early adopter of full-internet networks. We have witnessed the growth of their business and evolution of their enterprise networks and, in partnership with Videns IT, we continue to support them in this journey.

About Elekta

For almost five decades, Elekta has been a leader in precision radiation medicine. With nearly 4,000 employees worldwide, Elekta is committed to ensuring everyone in the world with cancer has access to – and benefits from – more precise, personalized radiotherapy treatments. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Elekta is listed on NASDAQ Stockholm Exchange. www.elekta.com

About Videns IT

Videns IT Services is a privately owned company, founded in 2012 by a team of seasoned network and ICT professionals with a broad international experience. Headquartered in The Netherlands, they serve international customers which means their business is international by nature. Videns IT aims to become a leading independent provider of global Next Generation SD-WAN networking solutions and Application Aware network services. www.videns-it.com