Opening Up The Lines Of Communication - Business Media MAGS

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Opening Up The Lines Of Communication

Vodacom’s SD-WAN connects. By Nelendhre Moodley.

As key sectors such as mining adopt the advances related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including the internet of things, artificial intelligence, automation and big data, to transform operations, communications specialist Vodacom is at the forefront helping drive this digital transformation.

According to Rodney Moloko, executive head for mining and production at Vodacom Business, software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology is playing a critical role in easing the strain on existing networks and offering financial and operational benefits.

“SD-WAN is the overlay technology that connects all your mission-critical endpoints to the core network using cloud technologies. In fact, by adopting SD-WAN, mines in outlying areas can access high-quality, reliable connectivity across all remote sites, even in rural areas where it would otherwise be very difficult to connect.”

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is an acronym for software-defined networking (SDN) in a wide area network (WAN). SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

This concept is similar to how software-defined networking implements virtualisation technology to improve data centre management and operation. A key application of SD-WAN is to allow companies to build higher-performance WANs using lower-cost and commercially available internet access, enabling businesses to partially or wholly replace more expensive private WAN connection technologies such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS).

How can this be used in the mining industry?

The mining industry is focused on constantly wanting to implement faster access services as they adopt cloud-based services to enable them to deliver on artificial intelligence, automation services and machine learning.

With the budget constraints the mining industry is facing, upgrading their MPLS networks to deliver on this is very costly. SD-WAN from Vodacom Business is the perfect alternative solution. It allows the mining industry to upgrade their network access links with Business Grade Broadband services and have a secure, integrated network that enhances network performance but also ensures customers have an enterprise service level agreement that manages their broadband SD-WAN network.

Does your mine need to be a particular size for you to use SD-WAN?

With Vodacom Business’s array of access technology ranging from LTE to microwave and fibre services, it can deliver an SD-WAN solution to nomadic sites all the way to their large head offices. So no matter how small or large a customer’s office is, SD-WAN can be deployed cost-effectively to offer commercial and technical benefits.

Would SD-WAN work for mining companies that are located in remote/rural areas?

Yes, using our broadband or having access to third party broadband in the remote site enables us to deliver access services to clients at the respective site.

What are some of the advantages of SD-WAN for mining companies?

The technical advantages are security and application performance manageability by implementing a quality of experience on application access. In addition to this is the seamless, secure integration with cloud-based services. The commercial benefits are the cost savings when compared to the current MPLS deployments.

Other benefits include:

  • Easier cloud adoption.
  • Deployment of internet of things capability which will enable digitisation,   i.e. improved maintenance and monitoring of equipment.
  • Increase in health and safety compliance due to the availability of real-time data.

Typically, shareholders and investors believe in decreasing costs and increasing productivity. Wouldn’t deploying SD-WAN add to operating costs for mining companies?

By using Vodacom Business’s SD-WAN solutions, customers can see a decrease in network operating costs, but at the same time they will see an increase in productivity as end users will have faster access to the application data. SD-WAN also reduces network management costs in managing the network.

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