Nov 08 2023

SD-WAN Connects Schools to Hybrid Cloud Success

IT teams can get the most out of their cloud environments by taking advantage of software-defined WAN’s greater flexibility and visibility.

Digital transformation initiatives are driving many schools to implement hybrid cloud architectures for their infrastructure and data storage. The cloud has long been a robust option for organizations looking to improve flexibility and scalability, but new digital capabilities are spurring even greater adoption. In fact, 88 percent of organizations view the cloud as the cornerstone of their digital strategy, according to a Deloitte report

As educational institutions become more strategic in their approach to cloud, they make smarter decisions about connectivity.

“We are moving toward a cloud-smart strategy, where IT leaders are thinking more about how we can increase agility and decrease the cost for the cloud,” says Ram Neema, a principal solution architect with CDW. “They also want to figure out how they can extract the full value of the cloud.”

As they take advantage of hybrid cloud environments, many organizations are finding that software-defined WAN and a secure service edge (SSE) approach deliver the cloud connectivity they need while enhancing visibility, manageability, performance and security.

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Effective Connections for Hybrid and Multicloud Environments

As IT teams aim to connect cloud workloads, the use of SD-WAN and SSE has become more prevalent.

SD-WAN uses software overlays to manage networks more effectively, giving administrators greater control over bandwidth and traffic flows. This technology allows a school’s IT team to automate key processes, enabling greater speed and flexibility while enhancing performance. It also provides a clear look into traffic flows and data interactions.

“Connecting a cloud with SD-WAN helps an organization adapt quickly to changes in its hybrid cloud infrastructure,” says Pete Schepers, a principal solution architect with CDW. “As workloads move, you can quickly gain insight into what's going on in your environment, understand what’s moving and adapt your policy.”

SD-WAN also lets IT teams see traffic at a granular level, providing data on latency and details about specific transports. It also enhances security by automating the implementation of measures such as end-to-end segmentation and end-to-end encryption.

RELATED: SD-WAN anchors a K–12 school’s cloud infrastructure.

SSE uses tools such as access control, cloud secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers and Firewall as a Service to enable secure access to in-house and cloud-based applications. This approach enforces an organization’s security policies wherever applications and workloads originate.

“Regardless of where your apps live, we want to be able to implement and enforce our security policy,” Schepers says. “We should have the same policy across the entire organization and all of our workloads.”

An Approach for Hybrid Cloud Success

Schools should plan their hybrid and multicloud strategies around priorities such as performance and user experience. The way a district connects students and staff to cloud resources will have a significant impact on their experience.

Ram Neema
IT leaders are thinking more about how we can increase agility and decrease the cost for the cloud.”

Ram Neema Principal Solution Architect, CDW

Implementing SD-WAN to provide cloud connectivity not only delivers the performance and experience users demand but also benefits IT teams. By providing clear visibility into network operations, SD-WAN enables centralized control of resources across the district.

“It can help unify control to a point where they basically operate their on-premises infrastructure and their cloud resources within the same set of constructs,” says Robert Herriage, senior manager for hybrid infrastructure portfolio and strategy with CDW. “They can leverage those through automation and unified dashboards.”

Ultimately, the right cloud connections enable school IT teams to focus less on managing a complex cloud infrastructure, helping them figure out how to align their IT resources — wherever they may be, on-premises or in the cloud — with their users’ needs.

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