August 10, 2020

How to connect multiple branch offices?

How do you connect multiple offices rapidly and affordably without sacrificing performance?

One complaint I often hear is how the WAN can be a bottleneck to productivity. MPLS circuits can take weeks even months to provision depending on location. All too often, IT directors have told me they need to explain why MPLS circuit delivery is a holdup for branch office going live. At a time where agility is more important than ever to business outcomes, this is an unenviable situation to say the least.

This then begs the question: how do you connect multiple offices rapidly and affordably without sacrificing performance? Cloud-native SD-WAN provides a way to do just that.

Challenges when connecting multiple offices

There are a few common requirements when it comes to connecting multiple offices to the WAN. The connection must be secure, reliable, affordable, and capable of delivering the performance enterprises demand. The competitive nature of modern business also dictates that any solution is agile and scalable enough to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce and allow for rapid onboarding of new sites.

VPN has proven to be a popular solution for site-to-site connectivity. However, as demonstrated in this case study of a software security company expanding to Europe, VPN has a number of downsides that limit its practical applications.

VPN requires onsite IT staff to manage local firewalls, not always practical in the era of WeWork and mobile employees. Complexity also grows with the size of the network, limiting scalability. Mobile VPN clients are either non-existent or too clunky to enable optimized connection for mobile workers. Further, the time it takes to get a physical appliance to a branch office in a foreign country can make VPN impractical for time-sensitive projects. In other cases, teams are so small or mobile that a physical appliance is simply overkill. However, what often makes VPN unusable for the enterprise is the notorious unreliability of the public Internet.

The desire for reliability is why many enterprises have looked to MPLS to connect multiple offices in the past. The problem is that MPLS simply isn’t agile or fast enough for deployments that require rapid onboarding.

In the aforementioned case study, it would’ve taken about 6 weeks to deliver an MPLS circuit, an obvious deal-breaker for a 5-week project. Further, MPLS bandwidth is significantly more expensive than Internet bandwidth, making connecting multiple offices with MPLS expensive. This also makes providing connectivity to small offices impractical. Finally, like VPN, MPLS struggles to provide optimized performance for cloud and mobile users (e.g. the trombone effect).

How to connect multiple offices with ICG Asia

ICG Asia’s cloud-native SD-WAN is able to solve all these problems elegantly. With ICG Asia, the complexity of VPN and lengthy MPLS provisioning times are a thing of the past. Just how much of an improvement is ICG Asia? Check out this video that demonstrates how to connect and provision a ICG Asia Socket in 3 minutes. From there, the “how to connect multiple offices” process is simply rinse-and-repeat.

Not only is this process faster and more scalable than the alternatives, the resulting WAN connectivity performs better and is more secure. Our global private backbone is backed by a 99.999% uptime SLA, includes an integrated security stack, provides end-to-end route optimization for cloud traffic, and delivers WAN connectivity that meets (and often exceeds) MPLS reliability at significantly lower costs.

But what about those sites where an appliance of any kind is impractical? This ADB SAFEGATE case study provides a real-world example of how the SD-WAN mobile client handled the challenge of deploying all 26 company sites within two months. According to Lars Norling, director of IT operations at ADB SAFEGATE, “the possibility to include everyone within the solution, including all of our traveling colleagues and all of our small offices using the SD-WAN mobile client, has been extremely important to us”.

By creating a software-defined perimeter (SDP), ICG Asia makes it easy to securely connect even a single mobile user via clientless browser access. As SDP is built into the ICG Asia SD-WAN, mobile users are protected by the same policies and packet inspections as on-prem employees and benefit from the same WAN optimization features.

ICG Asia eliminates WAN bottlenecks and makes connecting multiple offices simple

As we have seen, ICG Asia makes connecting multiple offices simple, fast, and affordable. This enables enterprise WANs to keep up with the speed of modern business, and no longer act as a bottleneck or impediment to progress. If you’d like a demo of the nuts and bolts of the “how to connect multiple offices” process, you’re welcome to connect with us for a Discovery Workshop.

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