More Branches, Now: Supporting a Nimble Branch Office Strategy Requires SD-WAN

Although many businesses are using the online revolution of the last decade to abandon bricks-­‐and-­‐mortar facilities in favor of largely or solely online presence, others are not. Some are using IT to power further decentralization of staff and operations—to have more physical presence rather than less. Where once they might have had a single large regional office building, now they might have many smaller facilities. Where formerly they would have been limited in their options by the availability of a large enough office space to house their entire staff, now they can look for significantly smaller spaces. Where they might have felt restricted to siting the regional office in a central business district within a metropolitan area, now they might site smaller offices almost anywhere zoned for business across the metro.

This dispersal of facilities can serve several strategies. One, of course, is to get closer to customers. When your business is some kind of personal service, such as dialysis or personal fitness or tax preparation, there is value to getting close and convenient to customers. Many a university and college has embraced the idea as well, with satellite campuses springing up near bedroom communities to serve commuter students and evening degree seekers. Even when your business is some kind of B2B service, again, being close to customers can make a big difference.

Another strategy is to get close to your staff, especially in areas with significant transportation challenges—inadequate or absent light rail/subway systems, serious congestion, expensive or inadequate parking. Getting office sites close to where  staff live rather than forcing everyone to come to the same place in a downtown business district can make the staff both happier and more productive.

Aside from improving sales, customer satisfaction, staff morale, or productivity, dispersing facilities can also decrease real estate and other operating costs. Shifting from top-­‐dollar prime real estate downtown to cheaper real estate (and potentially cheaper utilities, and lower taxes) out in the suburbs can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

Achieving this kind of flexibility in siting has one important prerequisite in the modern economy: network connectivity. Everyone has to be knit together into a seamlessly integrated WAN. And of course, saving money on real-­‐estate but pouring it into MPLS service instead would undercut some of the benefits of the transition,  so organizations need not just network links but cheaper, high-­‐capacity ones. Likewise, IT needs to avoid massive scale up of the “branch stack” required to get on the WAN and of the effort to manage the WAN as it gets bigger and more complex physically. And, they need to be able to bring branches up (and shut them down) easily and quickly, as plans to site facilities near customers or staff necessitate regular re-­‐appraisal of location and potentially more frequent moves.

Put it all together and it is easy to see that flexible, agile branch strategies need SDWAN plus consumer broadband or 4g LTE, to enable the maximum choice in locations while minimizing expense in connectivity, capital, and administration.

To learn more, join my upcoming webinar, Demystifying the Software Defined WAN. Register here.

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), IT Challenges