We have all noticed that the business environment is changing at a rapid pace. IT departments, previously seen as cost centers, were tasked with reducing their infrastructure and even justifying their existence, but not anymore. With the rise of just-in-time manufacturing, and long tail customization, all driven by ecommerce that’s increasingly accessed from mobile devices, the old rules are being turned upside down. The IT organization is now tasked with enabling the business to drive innovation.
The Opportunity that Comes with Change
While change comes with opportunity, we know change isn’t always easy. The old ways of building infrastructure and networks are no longer working. Organizations need to adapt to a world where customers use social media and create huge amounts of data that contains business intelligence. All of us have questions about what is happening in the IT space, what the challenges are and what do to about it. That is why Juniper got together with Forrester and did some research to help sort this all out.
It started in July 2012, when Juniper Networks commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate what enterprises need from a network in order to scale for business and meet future needs. Forrester Consulting surveyed 150 IT business decision-makers from enterprises across the United States, and yesterday the results were shared in a webinar. It was a conversation between Forrester Analyst Andre Kindness, Juniper’s CIO Bask Iyer and Mark Settle from BMC Software. I listened in and there was a lot to learn.
What We Learned From Our Network
Bask Iyer shared how at Juniper we know how to build networks and we’ve seen changes coming fast. Like us, many of our customers want to go to cloud, and they want to support bringing personal devices to the office. We have been redesigning our networks, and knew that our customers would need to as well. It is more than just adding bandwidth or doing the same old things. Even as networks transition to the cloud, the IT department is still responsible for application performance. There isn’t an easy fix.
Our customers understand the business of networks and place a high priority on upgrading the network to support virtualization. Yet there is still a disconnect about what it means for IT to deploy a business ready network. Factors like the influx of big data, users bringing their own devices, and employees leveraging third-party applications, such as streaming video, hamper businesses trying to provision new services. As a result, the IT staff grapples with networks that no longer work for today’s enterprises. Forrester found that 86 percent of businesses said they have not been able to provision new services or support business demands because the network wasn’t up to the task.
Serving the Needs of Diverse Users
Mark from BMC said they found serving diverse users around the world adds complexity. They need to control where critical information can flow, for example to the office, but not to the public locations. They are looking at device-aware and location-aware ways to manage access on the network. There can be almost an infinite number of connection points and resources to look at. The network is at a breaking point, and something needed to be done. They see a growing interest in ways to manage the data centers, to look at network performance and to monitor end user experience. Customers want fast application response time or they might move on to another site. Mark recommended embracing change, and looking to network automation as a means to gain control.
I found it interesting that IT managers who responded to the survey cited the inability of the network to support new services being traced to traditional networking design principals. As a result, the characteristics that IT business decision-makers want from their network don’t match up with their infrastructure needs. 74 percent of respondents said that the network was complex, while 35 percent said their network was rigid. Since the network is the platform that connects everything together, these results don’t match with the need for the IT infrastructure to be easy to manage and flexible.
Forrester found that firms will require a simplified architecture and an open, programmable network if they are going to adapt to the changing business environment. They found that if enterprises take advantage of this new type of network, they can leverage billions of data points, users, and devices to realize the business benefits of increased revenue, increased customer loyalty, and lower operating costs. That all sounds good, but there is still more to learn as vendors and customers build networks that will support business goals for the next decade.