Digital transformation has been the watchword for organisations across industries and local government is no different. Many local councils are rolling out transformation strategies and adopting new technology to meet the rapidly increasing demands for digital services while dealing with challenges of changing demographics, ageing assets and constrained budgets.
In some local councils, cloud solutions have been rolled out rapidly to address customer-facing expectations without necessarily ensuring that backend systems and networks can support ongoing digitalisation. While a recent survey revealed that 51 per cent of surveyed councils were in the strategy or business case development phase of digital transformation, just three per cent of respondents said their councils were fully transformed.1
Achieving effective digital transformation requires local government organisations to have communications network infrastructure that’s capable of dealing with increased traffic, delivering a consistent user experience, and letting users access applications and data they need from anywhere without performance issues.
Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is a key service helping local governments across Australia prepare for digital transformation effectively.
By monitoring dual WAN links at each site and applying relevant application aware routing policies, SD-WAN eliminates the risk of lengthy outages or link degradation, which can affect the quality of voice and video calls and can prevent data from being exchanged in a timely manner, such as financial transactions.
Managing a traditional WAN setup requires physical interaction with each, individual device as policies change, creating a significant burden for the ICT team. In addition, provisioning new sites can take a significant amount of time and resources.
SD-WAN virtualises much of these processes, putting WAN management into the cloud so that individual device physical interaction is minimised. The ICT team can manage the infrastructure from a transparent, central control system that they can securely access from anywhere enabling greater operational flexibility, especially outside of standard business hours.
Importantly, SD-WAN doesn’t replace existing technology or telecommunications links. Instead, it is an overlay technology that helps local governments leverage existing investments. This makes it easy to adopt SD-WAN.
The benefits of SD-WAN centre around enabling digital transformation. SD-WAN lets networks preferentially support bandwidth-intensive applications that challenge WANs without many of the latency or lag issues experienced in traditional network management environments. This lets councils digitalise more services, provide more information and apps online, and operate more efficiently.
Using SD-WAN, local councils can reduce the use of costly MPLS circuits and, instead, use lower-cost, higher-speed options. SD-WAN also puts users closer to the cloud services they’re consuming, so there is less latency and a better user experience. This is important when local governments use tools such as Microsoft Office 365, Infor PathWays or TechnologyOne’s One Council, which is based in the cloud.
SD-WAN has been used to power digital transformation for local councils across Australia and New Zealand. It helps deliver improved customer service, enhanced redundancy and availability, and to lower costs. It also sets councils up with a network that’s capable of more flexibly handling new and emerging technologies.
When choosing the right SD-WAN provider, councils should look for a solution that’s built on open standards. The provider should offer SD-WAN as a managed service with defined service levels, and the service should be specifically designed for government requirements. It should be based on proven technology and it should guarantee data sovereignty and security.
In 2019, Vertel was selected as an approved supplier of SD-WAN services for the NSW Government’s Telecommunications Procurement Agreement.
To find out how SD-WAN can provide your council with a network platform that is ‘fit’ for the demands of digital transformation visit sdwan.vertel.com.au.