How SD-WAN is Ending the “Tyranny of the Boxes” for Financial Services

Nov 3, 2019, 00:00 AM by Chris Banks
How SD-WAN enables financial services companies to meet demands of digitally-savvy customers

When I meet with executives in the financial services industry to talk about leveraging technology to help transform their businesses, there’s one request I get no matter what size their organization.  

Help me get rid of all these boxes in my telco closet!”

We live in a networking world where nearly every function has its own box – routers, switches and power supplies – all connected by a jumble of cables and cords. These hardware-based networking components are expensive, labor intensive, inflexible, and not well-suited for meeting the evolving banking demands of a digitally savvy and mobile customer base.

Software-defined networking (SDN) offers the ability to end the “tyranny of the boxes,” allowing those critical networking functions to be performed virtually.  SDN enables financial services organizations to move to modern networking environments built for today’s digital, internet-dependent economy, delivering simplicity, ease-of-use and lower total cost of ownership.  It frees IT staff and resources from labor-intensive hardware support and allows them to be redirected to functions that more directly support the organizations’ core business.

The New Banking Reality

The financial services industry has evolved dramatically in the past 10 years. What was formerly known as bankers’ hours has morphed into banker’s 24-hours.  Customers want to be able to get loans, make deposits, check 401K balances, whenever the desire strikes -- whether at noon or at midnight.  And the bank or credit union needs to be available or they risk losing these customers to more flexible competitors.

Many banks have opened tellerless branches featuring video-enabled ATMs to support customer-staff interactions. Others such as Eastern Bank have introduced the concept of the micro-branch to maximize customer service in small spaces. Mobile pop-up branches have also emerged as financial organizations consider the kiosk a good model to deliver services customers want while keeping costs lower. And retail banking environments like the Capital One Cafés boast the experience of a coffee house atmosphere where customers and others are welcome to relax and maybe conduct banking business.

This evolution in financial services is moving unprecedented quantities of financial transactions, services and files over the internet, 24/7/365.  At the same time, banks and credit unions continue to grow more cloud dependent for business-critical applications and secure data storage.  Plus, there’s the consistent need to transmit large documents to and from data centers.  All of this is creating more and more internet-bound traffic, fueling a skyrocketing demand for bandwidth and network flexibility – a demand that most legacy networks cannot support.

Today’s financial industry needs a modernized approach to networking – one that can readily support their current needs for more bandwidth, more flexibility, more security and prepare for the possibilities of emerging banking trends. 

SD-WAN:  Empowering Banks for Innovation

Software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) delivers the bandwidth capacity, network agility and security that financial institutions need through centralized software-driven controls.   It reduces labor-intensive and time-consuming on-site hardware installations and maintenance (lose the boxes) giving network administrators the ability to manage multiple sites – through software automation -- from one central location.

It provides the ability to view and manage your entire distributed network, down to the port and device level, through one consolidated screen on a desktop or handheld device, allowing you to better manage applications and traffic and quickly take needed corrective actions.

SD-WAN also helps you speed time to market for new products and services.  New branches and added network capacity can be brought online within hours, rather than weeks or months often required for more traditional hardware-based solutions. 

Real-life Examples of SD-WAN

Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU), which has 11 locations and more than 118,000 members, recently replaced its legacy MPLS network and architecture with 100 Mbps ethernet-dedicated internet and SD-WAN from Comcast Business. As a result, PFCU has reduced the incidents of manual intervention required by its employees for day-to-day network support allowing them to focus on and improve the customer experience for members.

“More bandwidth, better pricing and greater network flexibility have become critical success factors for organizations like ours,” said Patrick Williams, PFCU’s Chief Information Officer.
“SD-WAN addresses these challenges and also offers the opportunity to consolidate equipment and build in additional redundancies.”

Employees noticed the differences immediately. Transactions and check images were processed faster. Opening new accounts took less time. These critical functions for branch tellers help influence the customer experience for the member community.

SD-WAN can clean out the financial telco closet and help create brand new opportunities for growth in financial services.

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