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Fintech company goes all in on SD-WAN 2.0 with Versa tech

In the age of hybrid and multi-cloud environments, software-defined WAN technology must do more than just connect branch locations to data centers. Enter SD-WAN 2.0.

Make a payment via credit card, debit card or online application -- use any method other than cash -- and some part of that transaction will likely pass through Fiserv's IT infrastructure.

As one of the largest providers of financial services technology in the world, Fiserv, based in Brookfield, Wis., says it has facilitated more than 30 billion digital payments and counting. With offices, employees and customers around the globe, the company relies heavily on its WAN to stay connected and in business. But, until recently, those connections could happen a bit circuitously.

"If one of our offices in India needed to reach a resource in Omaha, Nebraska, we'd have to send the request to a local point of presence, then to the data center in Australia, then to a data center in Germany, then to the data center in Omaha," said Michael Wynston, Fiserv's director of global network architecture, during a presentation at the ONUG Fall 2019 conference in New York. "Now, our WAN is much more intelligent."

Approved transactions can now skip the world tour and travel directly between point A and point B via the internet, which significantly reduces latency, he added. The improvement comes thanks to Versa Networks' software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology.

"The value we're getting out of it is really significant," Wynston said. "The zero-touch provisioning has also made our deployment time significantly shorter, which allows us to recognize revenue a lot faster."

SD-WAN is so much more than just changing the way you connect from your data center to your branches.
Michael WynstonDirector of global network architecture, Fiserv

Importantly, Versa's technology also integrates with the fintech company's multi-cloud environment -- a capability that enables what some now call SD-WAN 2.0.

"SD-WAN today is so much more than just changing the way you connect from your data center to your branches,'" Wynston said. "It gives you security, visibility, automation, an API-driven infrastructure."

Another selling point for Fiserv was Versa's built-in analytics capabilities, which Wynston said compared favorably with other vendors' separate analytics tools.

"Because [a third-party tool] wasn't natively part of the infrastructure, you had to tune it and teach it what you wanted it to look at," Wynston added, "whereas Versa's analytics already understand the technology."

With a plethora of features on offer in the rapidly evolving SD-WAN 2.0 market -- what he called "knobs and dials" -- Wynston's team started their planning process by identifying which use cases mattered most to their users.

"First, we talked to the business units and tried to understand what they needed to deliver better, faster and cheaper payments," Wynston said.

They also spoke with Fiserv's security and operations teams, focusing on how the company wanted its WAN to look -- rather than on what vendors wanted to sell. Microsegmentation, data integrity, automation and visibility emerged as top concerns.

Wynston's team also knew they wanted software-driven, standards-based technology that could support multi-cloud interoperability and network functions virtualization. And they had to connect a wide variety of endpoints across a massive global network.

"If you look at our digital footprint, it's not your typical hub and spoke, retail or franchise environment," he said. "We needed to be able to consider anything that can process a financial transaction, whether it's a point-of-sale device, a website or a store."

Once they selected Versa's SD-WAN 2.0 technology, he said his team worked closely with the vendor ahead of deployment.

"Talk to your stakeholders, and then talk to them again," Wynston said. "And collaborate with your compute partners -- that will absolutely lead to success."

This was last published in October 2019

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