6 main reasons early adopters say informed their decision to move to SD-WAN

MTN Business  has won early adopters of the Software, Defined Wide area Network dubbed MTN SD-WAN, who have made it possible to test, prove and roll it out to their WAN in Namibia and East Africa.

Below are 6 main reasons early adopters say informed their decision to move to SD-WAN:

  • MTN SD-WAN is less complex, flexible and easy to manage compared to legacy WANs. One of our clients with branches across East and Central Africa acknowledged that SD WAN has….
    “…greatly simplified the management aspect of the network and in turn improved our user experience.”
  • You don’t need to remove your existing MPLS network. SD-WAN can be combined with MPLS network to form a hybrid WAN. You can, over time, migrate traffic growth towards cost‐effective Internet bandwidth. One of our reference clients started by replacing all unmanaged legacy LAN switches which were making identification of faults very tedious. SD WAN changed everything in that now they have better visibility on the network while troubleshooting and implementation of network policies has become highly simplified. They have eventually rolled it out to their WAN.
  • Centralized Management portal. This feature enables you to automate routine tasks like configuring, troubleshooting, reporting, etc. With this you can prioritize traffic which favours your critical business applications and improves their performance. The portal has easy‐to‐use tools for setting priorities and features that automatically change traffic flows according to current network conditions.One of our current clients acknowledges that:
    “… faults across the network are quickly identified and resolved by the click of a button on the user interface as compared to before where one had to login to individual devices and troubleshoot…..our VoIP and CRM application performance has improved without the need to upgrade our WAN and internet bandwidth. Service availability is also better in that when MPLS link is down, traffic flows via internet link at branch”.
  • Traditional MPLS can’t offer high performance access to cloud applications compared to MTN SD-WAN. Given that the latest business applications like Microsoft Office 365 and several other solutions are cloud based, this makes a SD-WAN the key to Digital Transformation in enterprises. It transforms your WAN architecture and make it more agile.
  • Zero touch deployment. MTN SD WAN is easier to adopt and manage as the centralized provisioning portal removes the need for IT personnel to physically go to sites to do actual implementation. It automates provisioning and applies requisite traffic policies on the branch routers and switches. This saves time and cost of setting up new sites or replacing aged equipment.
  • Experienced customer support and advisory from MTN Business certified engineers.

Why Network Monitoring is key to any business

One of the most underrated yet a tough business tasks of a Network/System administrator is network/system monitoring. Having eyes and ears across the complete IT platform has become a very demanding task.  Today, users bring their own devices to the office and workers are liberalized to work from anyplace at any time. This implies that there’s almost no border to shield.  Every human being on earth will have four devices connected to the internet by 2020.  according to Fortinet. One third of large organisations say that there are atleast 5,000 non business devices connected to their network, according to an Infoblox( 2018) report.

Even with these circumstances, the IT team is expected to monitor and be aware of every aspect of their network. it’s vital to possess a tool to help in effective and economical network and system monitoring and management. Especially for corporations having tens, hundreds or even thousands of branches across multiple countries,

Network monitoring refers to the oversight of a computer network using specialized management software tools. These systems ensure the availability and overall performance of computers and network services. They let admins monitor access, routers, slow or failing parts, firewalls, core switches, consumer systems, and server performance — among other network aspects. This successively ensures that a business will deliver on its core functions, fully empowered by an efficient IT infrastructure.

When situations such as network failures, unacceptably slow response or other unexpected behavior is detected, these systems send additional messages called alerts to designated locations such as a management server, an email address, or a phone number to notify system administrators. Such systems save a company a lot of money by reducing the mean time to restore any problems. It is the best possible way to ensure that your business is operating as efficiently as it should.

Network monitoring is necessary for any business, especially large scale businesses or those handling sensitive information such as financial institutions.

Important aspects to consider regarding Network Monitoring:

Security

One of the most important parts of network monitoring is keeping your information secure. Data is the most valuable commodity and it is paramount to keep access to it very secure. Globally, the cost of a data breach is 3.9 Million dollars which is a 1.5 percent increase from 2018 according to IBM’s  Cost of Data Breach report( 2019). During the April- June 2019 period, the National KE-CIRT recorded a total of 26.6 million cyberthreat events, an increase from 11.25 million which was recorded between January and March 2019. Network monitoring is perhaps the most proactive way to deal with problems so that you can stay ahead of both internal and external threats.

Troubleshooting

Another great advantage of network monitoring is its troubleshooting abilities. You can save a lot of time trying to diagnose what is wrong. With network monitoring you can quickly pinpoint which device is having problems. Your support team will be able to pick up on a problem and fix it before users are even aware of it.

Because your monitoring is constant, it can help you to track certain trends in the performance of your network. When problems occur sporadically or at peak times, they can be hard to diagnose, but a network monitor will help you better understand what is going on.

Save Time and Money

Network monitoring will save you both lots of time and lots of money. Without it, a lot of time would have to be spent investigating, which would result in more hours having to be worked. This will not only cost more money, but will also lower your productivity. When you can quickly point out and fix network issues you are increasing your profits. When everything is running smoother, this gives you more time to run your business. When you understand how all your devices are being used, you can identify what needs additional disk space so you can increase the capacity quickly and effectively.

Plan for Change

With network monitoring, you can track if a device is running near its limit and needs to be changed. It gives you the ability to plan and easily make any necessary changes. All the reports that you will have showing your activity and what type of health your system is in will come in handy as great tools for your business. They will allow you to easily prove to others what is happening and show why one of your devices needs to be fixed or replaced.

Conclusion

At MTN Business Kenya we understand that network monitoring is no easy task and hence have partnered with Solarwinds to provide a comprehensive network monitoring and management Solution. Recently, analyst house Gartner, Inc. released their 2019 Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics tools and it listed Solarwinds as a challenger with the leaders in the market.

Their focus on the technology professional and commitment to excellence in end-to-end hybrid IT performance management has established them as a worldwide leader in network and systems management software and MSP solutions.

As an Enterprise Business Solution provider, MTN Business Kenya realizes that the expectations for IT performance and availability are high, and the responsibility to deliver on those expectations’ rests squarely on the shoulders of today’s technology professionals. Our overall aim is to provide a comprehensive solution that will meet the needs of the client irrespective of their network environment.

 

By Kenneth Odera

Pre-Sales Engineer at MTN

With the right ICT solutions, working from Home is set to boost productivity

According Gartner’s Update on Global work force trends (2019), the top three drivers of attraction remained compensation, work-life balance and stability in the workplace. Work-life balance seems to be the only one that can be manipulated flexibly out of the three. Working from home or remotely is a work plan that if well implemented perfects the idea and answers the many questions around work- life balance.

Interestingly, a survey by Brighter Monday (2019) conducted on over 8,000 millennials indicated that Millennials in Kenya prefer working in the office rather than at home. See below.

https://www.brightermonday.co.ke/blog/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/02/working-from-home-2.png

Random further surveys on twitter by Brighter Monday again revealed something another perspective. A majority of young working individuals would prefer a mix of working both at home and in the office.  Enabling your teams to be able to work from both at home and in the office is a great motivator to your younger work force. Especially, when your bank account can’t allow for huge salaries. They love the flexibility too.

The current work from home measures to curb the spread of the Corona Virus is a blessing in disguise for those who prefer having a mix of working from home and in the office. Employers will be able to confirm that indeed this concept is practical and doable. It has the potential of turning out more productive than any one had imagined before.  Who knows but employees could also be putting extra effort to be noticed as useful staff members. All they need is to have the right supporting solutions in place. Below are 5 ICT solutions that will be critical in powering remote working:

Secure VPN

This is a managed security solution that enables employees and teams to access company applications systems and other online resources securely on a virtual private network. Accessing such systems using the normal internet connection can be detrimental. Especially, in this era of heightened cyber security incidences that cost companies millions of shillings. A hacker aims to win once but companies have to win always. Get a trusted provider for your VPN solution. MTN Business Kenya is reputable, for instance, with certified engineers.

Technically, the solution by MTN Business Kenya proposes that all remote users will require to download and install the FortiClient VPN application which will provide a secure connection to MTN Hosted Virtual Firewall. A Site to site VPN Tunnel will be configured from the Virtual Firewall back to the client’s premises to enable users access resources remotely and securely.

Teams Direct Routing and Microsoft office 365

With  Teams direct routing solution, you enable your teams to call each other affordably on the Microsoft Teams platform without investing in a PABX or desktop phones. The calls can be made on your business line or even their personal mobile phones from Teams, thus ensuring all your staff are reachable when needed, while not missing any important business calls from clients. Microsoft Teams in itself, is a cloud-based team collaboration software that is part of the Office 365 suite of applications. The core capabilities in Microsoft Teams include:

  • business messaging
  • business calling
  • audio/video meetings thus no need for physical meetings. You can even do a full staff meeting on Teams. Thus your routine and strategy meetings can still continue while participants are at the comfort of their couches, benches or verandahs.
  • file sharing

It Integrates with other Office 365 applications, including Exchange, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, SharePoint, Outlook and more.

Besides direct routing, you can also opt to just have a hosted PABX and soft phones installed on your staff’s smartphones. MTN VoIP and hosted PABX has been tried and tested. This way, they will all receive and make business calls from their mobile using your business line without having to invest in PABX hardware and desktop phones. Your teams won’t miss any important business call.

Network Management System

How about enabling your core network teams to utilize this tool to receive real time alerts on any issues regarding your WAN, LAN and business applications on their phones? This will help them stay on top of things even though they are away from the office and be able to trouble shoot and fix. You can’t afford to be offline when almost all businesses are currently facing online. Learn more about remote working solutions here

 

Do you need some help in incorporating any of these solutions into your remote working plans? Send an email to us

 

By Mark Tindi, MTN Business