Multi-Cloud SD-WAN: Next-Generation Network for Digital Retail Transformation


Multi-cloud is the next phase of the hybrid cloud. It offers a redundancy model that relies on multiple cloud providers to host applications in a single heterogeneous architecture.

Today’s organizations need resilient architectures that can withstand failure of a single cloud. Cloud services require workload continuity with redundancy between clouds or the need to enhance the hybrid cloud experience. For example, even though organizations still run a vase majority of on-premise applications but use S3 storage in Amazon Web Services (AWS). Therefore, a single cloud is insufficient for resilience, regional availability, performance and data sovereignty.

To facilitate cloud multi-tasking, IaaS platforms are not the ‘one size fits all’ kind. Every cloud provider has some limitations as well as areas of expertise. One may handle a large number of requests per unit time more efficiently, while another cloud provider may offer better API-based services, such as voice recognition and machine learning capabilities.

Once you start to stitch all of these components together, it’s apparent that none are single-housed applications; almost everything that is dependent upon frictionless commerce is also by nature multi-cloud orientated. More importantly, with multi-cloud orientated designs, you need to ensure you have a safe, productive working environment and that the use of these day-to-day tools does not compromise security.

In the retail sector, there is a natural affinity between having a synergistic physical and digital presence. In retail storefronts, a positive customer experience with brand and technology, e.g., loyalty mobile apps, is likely to positively impact web traffic and ecommerce transactions. New store openings and promotions generate will generate much high volumes of brand-portal web site traffic.

IBM advises retail clients to view their brick and mortar stores as a “platform, and create physical, digital and virtual elements that are easily adjusted based on evolving consumer behaviors,” including:

  • A set of cloud-native applications to deliver individualized customer services and more efficiently conduct operational tasks. These applications can provide recommended actions based on insights derived from a host of sources: e-commerce, operational systems, third-party market data and various Internet of Things (IoT) sensors monitoring behavior, position and performance of customers, associates, products and equipment.
  • Numerous interactive customer digital displays, like electronic shelf labels, “magic mirrors” and digital signage, can provide contextual decision-making content, pricing and personalized offers while gathering data on shopping behavior.
  • Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and AI-robotics applications and devices that not only add to the store experience and fun factor but can enable a continuing conversation between the brand, store associates and consumers.

In the contemporary always-on tech world we live in today, solution providers are offering nearly everything as a service in the cloud. We are witnessing an era with a focus on SaaS acceleration as a buying requirement. A large retail chain with hundreds of thousands of physical stores, i.e., branch offices, requires a multi-cloud topology to assure service delivery of cloud applications, bandwidth and connectivity, and optimal digital customer experiences.

Initially, users looked at bandwidth aggregation and vanilla SD-WAN to solve the problem, which involved adding artificial capacity from the branch to the centralized location. However, private lines alone are costly, and latency is always an issue.

Hybrid-cloud has been around for a while and simply means more than one WAN or transport/access. Hybrid connectivity helped to improve the experience of getting to the cloud. However, there is no single public cloud with a large enough footprint to cover the geographies a global enterprise operates in, thus interlinked multi-cloud topologies are required.

Therefore, the question that surfaced was how you do you manage hybrid connectivity, and ensure that you have seamless and contextual policies across all forms of access and locations? When you are adopting a multi-cloud strategy, what precautions should you take and where does SD-WAN come into the picture?

Traditional WAN architectures weren’t built to support cloud apps. These networks were designed for fixed site-to-site VPN connections, where applications reside within the corporate data center. Traditional networks compensate for this difference, by making cloud applications trombone across the WAN estate with unnecessary hops, using up valuable bandwidth, and increasing packet loss and latency.

Versa seamlessly extends branch office connectivity, securely and intelligently, to private clouds and public clouds like AWS and Azure, and SaaS services like Salesforce, Office 365, RingCentral and others. Beyond standard multi-path connectivity, Versa SLA monitoring and SD-WAN policy management are available for multi-cloud and SaaS workloads. This approach enables enterprises to easily apply contextualized user experience criteria, to dynamically steer traffic across paths. This contextualized experience ensures the user will receive the highest possible performance and reliability for all enterprise applications and workloads.

Versa’s multi-tenant architecture allows any managed service provider (MSP) to deliver value added, productized, experience driven multi-cloud services. A single instance of Versa FlexVNF edge software supports multi-cloud connectivity for multiple end-customers, while maintaining complete routing and management separation between users, classes of traffic and variable endpoints.

Versa Networks’ SD-WAN integrated security solution is purpose-built to support multi-clouds and provides the safest approach to adopting a multi-cloud deployment. Versa offers the appropriate manageability, security and visibility across multi-cloud deployments. Versa has already been validated as a recommended vendor for secure SD-WAN at the enterprise WAN edge that can now be applied across multi-cloud application deployments.

To learn more about how to transform your business by transforming your retail branch network, visit Versa and Reliant at the NRF Big Show, 13-16 February, booth #1964.