Island Hopping: Uniting Manufacturing Branches and Infrastructures with SD-WAN

Manufacturers are prime candidates for software-defined WANs. Keeping in mind the structure of a modern factory, with its numerous embedded sensors, assembly lines and inventory systems, all of which need to work in concert, and then add to that complexity the distributed nature of many manufacturing operations plus the rise of contract manufacturers, and you have the archetype for a major overhaul of the WAN-edge status quo.

In fact, a five-year forecast from two PricewaterhouseCoopers analysts this year projected that manufacturers would have the second-highest level of SD-WAN adoption across all industries, after only retailers. What's driving this tendency at the moment? A few major trends include:

1. The Industrial Internet of Things

GE has estimated the Industrial Internet of Things – the term for the use of multiple Internet Protocol services, applications devices and devices in heavy industry – could add $15 trillion to global GDP by 2030. For manufacturers in particular, IIoT upgrades may include increased investment in cloud applications for data analytics and machine-to-machine communications.

"The IIoT could add $15 trillion to global GDP by 2030."

These apps will place new demands on WAN capacity and reliability. At the same time, the overall WAN must prioritize traffic so that the most performance-sensitive applications always get the best paths through the network.

A failsafe SD-WAN is the ticket to such smart and responsive WAN edge infrastructure because of the real-time alerting nature of many IoT devices, measured in many events per second. Manufacturers can count on SD-WAN to scale and adapt to their changing requirements in the IIoT.

2. Contract Manufacturing and Complex Operations

The growth of distributed enterprises, with multiple branch offices needing to connect to cloud services, has been an important catalyst of general SD-WAN uptake. For manufacturers in particular, something similar has long driven WAN requirements.

Contract manufacturers, for instance, have to send data directly from the factory floor to their partners and/or other holding companies within their conglomerates. This information must be up-to-date, even as it travels across multiple networks and disparate geographies, between the "islands" of their different WAN edge sites.

A unified WAN architecture is invaluable in such scenarios. A failsafe SD-WAN provides the link quality measurements, deterministic routing and security levels that ensure the different stakeholders in modern manufacturing operations stay current with business agility KPIs.

3. Application Access for Remote Sites

Manufacturing sites come and go alongside the products they support. A ramp-up in production for a new device or piece of machinery might spur the setup of temporary facilities in remote locations. These offices will need reliable networking right away, and SD-WAN can deliver it.

Manufacturers can tap into SD-WAN benefits such as aggregation of multiple link types, including LTE, satellite and broadband, in addition to traditional MPLS. Plus, SD-WAN frees your remote sites from the performance penalties of data center-centric WAN architectures that trombone traffic to its destination.

Large enterprises are more likely to have more work sites and more complex and distributed network architecture as well as greater bandwidth requirements, which expands the potential benefits that can be achieved with SD-WAN, according to the PWC Strategy report.

Instead, SD-WAN offers last mile delivery and cloud connectivity. Find out more today about your SD-WAN options by requesting a Talari Networks demo.

Categories: IT Challenges, WAN to Cloud, Network Reliability, Intelligent WAN