NBN and SD-WAN broaden the horizon for Australian businesses

The rise of the NBN and SD-WAN have gone hand-in-hand in Australia, providing organisations of all sizes – from Australia Post right down to SMEs – with greater flexibility and choice when it comes to broadband.

The rise of the NBN and SD-WAN have gone hand-in-hand in Australia, providing organisations of all sizes – from Australia Post right down to SMEs – with greater flexibility and choice when it comes to broadband.

The National Broadband Network overhauled Australia’s broadband infrastructure, not just rolling out fibre nationwide but also acting as a wholesaler to create a level playing field for all broadband retailers. With the initial build completed in 2020, NBN Co provides fast fibre links to retailers across the country.

Meanwhile, Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) provides a more flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networking, when it comes to linking branches back to head office data centres.

“As a result, Australia Post significantly reduced the number of disruptive outages, falling by more than 70 per cent compared to five years prior.”

John Cox – former Australia Post executive general manager of transformation and enablement

SD-WAN’s ability to use consumer or business-grade broadband services from multiple carriers, taking advantage of the NBN, makes it a much more cost-effective and resilient option than relying on dedicated MPLS links from the very largest carriers.

The arrival of these two innovations created a dynamic shift in Australia’s business broadband market. It proved to be perfect timing for Australia Post, as the postal service set out to improve the speed and reliability of broadband links running to its over 4,000 sites spread across the furthest reaches of the country.

Previously, Australia Post’s retail outlets across the nation experienced frequent internet outages. Particularly in places like Far North Queensland, where ageing copper connections were prone to disruption from rain, says John Cox – former Australia Post executive general manager of transformation and enablement.

Cox oversaw Australia Post’s migration from MPLS connections with its incumbent telecommunications provider to SD-WAN provided by Orro.

“Thanks to the NBN and SD-WAN, it was finally practical to run multi-fibre links to Australia Post’s larger sites – to provide redundancy – while relying on fibre and 4G wireless backup at the smaller sites”, says Cox – speaking at Orro’s recent ‘Delivering Disruption’ virtual event.

“As a result, Australia Post significantly reduced the number of disruptive outages, falling by more than 70 per cent compared to five years prior.”

Along with improving the reliability of broadband connections, the shift to SD-WAN also underpinned Australia Post’s cloud strategy.

“.. the reality is that there are more than a million smaller businesses out there which can also benefit from combining NBN fibre and SD-WAN in a multi-office environment to significantly enhance their network.”

Ray Owen – chief technology officer at NBN Co.

Rather than routing all traffic back through an MPLS link to a central data centre, SD-WAN allows SaaS applications in branch offices to break out to the internet and securely connect directly to the cloud. This reduces latency to improve cloud application performance.

The advantages of SD-WAN and the NBN are open to all, with NBN Co rolling out 17 million kilometres of fibre strands all across Australia – with more to come as it begins to upgrade sections of the Fibre to the Node network. As part of this, the wholesale broadband network is investing $700 million to create 240 business fibre zones covering 700,000 business premises.

The NBN’s separation of retail operations from the underlying broadband infrastructure opened up a new wave of choice and competition in Australia. This created the perfect conditions for SD-WAN to flourish, says Ray Owen – chief technology officer at NBN Co.

“Combined with the benefits of SD-WAN, the NBN as a wholesale fibre network offers Australian businesses the capability to very quickly and easily provide services across multiple sites,” Owen told the ‘Delivering Disruption’ virtual event. “That’s a great outcome for Australia Post, but the reality is that there are more than a million smaller businesses out there which can also benefit from combining NBN fibre and SD-WAN in a multi-office environment to significantly enhance their network.”


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