The network in India: why SD-WAN will drive business forward in 2022

SD-WAN has never been more relevant in India than it is today. At a time when enterprises are facing challenges on multiple fronts, including keeping control of costs, staying productive and enabling a mobile workforce, a next generation network has become essential.

India’s businesses continue to face new challenges, challenges that are often far outside of a company’s control. Political circumstances, changes in economic conditions, supply chain issues must always be overcome, but the past year and a half gave us a challenge nobody saw coming: circumstances made us shift to an employee-centric view of the workplace, in which the workplace follows the worker.

It changed everything and forced us to think in all kinds of new ways about how we run our companies. It imposed changes in business models, reshaped relationships with customers, and dramatically changed how we communicate in the workplace. Our teams were suddenly obliged to work from home in large numbers. Contact centers were hugely impacted, with agents needing to work remotely and utilize cloud computing more than ever.

While enterprises have already been building better networks in recent years, the level of robustness, flexibility and safety required in the new world went far beyond the boundaries of the “old normal” future planning that conscientious enterprises have followed for decades. The network may appear to be a commodity now, but enterprise-grade, agile and safe networks are not. And no network means no cloud.

Circumstances helping drive SD-WAN forward

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 saw SD-WAN really come into its own. Millions of workers all working remotely and all needing to access enterprise applications required a scalable, cloud-based network that could operate with high performance, agility, flexibility and security. It is a trend that is not going away: research has found that 95% of Indian companies plan to continue with remote work for the next two years.

The hybrid working model gives employees more flexibility to choose where they work and looks like becoming an accepted standard in India. My Orange colleague Bala Mahadevan previously wrote about working from home (WFH) and working remotely in general, and more companies will need intelligent and intent-based networks to meet this growing need. They will also require high-level security to address the larger cybersecurity threat of the new perimeter-less network.

SD-WAN can power the hybrid working model and enable secure, efficient remote work. And make no mistake, security must remain a priority for companies that are enabling more remote workers: 89% of Indian companies believe implementing a WFH policy has led to an increase in the number of security challenges they face.

SD-WAN’s unstoppable rise

With digital transformation already a strategic imperative for Indian businesses, cloud was already on a rapid rise, too, with research forecasting that India’s cloud revenues will exceed $16.6 billion by 2024. Cloud is just one of the digital technologies powering digital transformation in India, alongside Internet of Things (IoT), mobility and data analytics, all of which require a next-generation network to enable them.

The adoption of these solutions plus other bandwidth-intensive applications has meant that data traffic is increasing exponentially. Data consumption in India is forecast to grow to 100 million terabytes by 2022, something that places huge pressure on legacy enterprise networks. This presents companies with challenges in terms of both network complexity and, significantly, cost. SD-WAN provides the solution here, and Indian companies that want greater control are realizing that SD-WAN can give them the ability to change network policies as workloads and applications demand it and to do it simply and cost effectively.

Now is not the time to stand still

Even before COVID-19, enterprises throughout India were starting to recognize the importance of SD-WAN to provide scalable, efficient connectivity from the edge of the network to the cloud. The changes enforced by the pandemic only re-emphasized SD-WAN’s capabilities and highlighted the ways it can help companies recover and get back to some kind of normality moving forward.

Network managers in India are now recognizing this too: despite the financial challenges created by COVID-19, 62% of companies say they plan to increase their spending on SD-WAN. This goes hand-in-hand with their overall commitment to ICT spending in 2021 and beyond, as digital transformation continues to be a growth engine. IDC has forecast India’s ICT spending to grow by over 10% to reach $91 billion in 2021.

It seems clear to me that enterprises are going to need the capabilities of SD-WAN more than ever as we move forward in an unpredictable world. Recent research found that around three-quarters of Indian workers say they want more flexible remote work options. I see hybrid becoming an accepted model for working, as it can offer flexibility and employee satisfaction with no noticeable decrease in productivity.

SD-WAN will be the network that enables and powers that shift to greater remote working. According to Gartner, SD-WAN was estimated to reach 2% to 3% of the global remote workforce by the end of 2021, driven by the need to improve and secure work-from-home connectivity.

Read more about how Orange helps customers enjoy more-agile and cost-effective connectivity that powers hybrid working and drives digital transformation forward with Flexible SD-WAN.

Saurabh Sanghoee
Saurabh Sanghoee

Saurabh Sanghoee drives the Orange Business Services “Network-Native Digital Services company” strategy in India. He has over 25 years’ experience across various disciplines in the ICT industry, and Saurabh is passionate about simplifying digital journeys for enterprises. He has represented Orange at various national and international forums as a speaker on topics covering digital disruption, cloud, collaboration, IoT, networks and security. Saurabh has a degree in engineering with a specialization in telecommunications.