The Business Case for… Automating your network (aka ‘doing more, with less…’)
Sep 17, 2015
Automating your network (aka ‘doing more, with less…’)
I’m often asked about ‘Digital Transformation’ and what it means. So while there are many ways to define it, there is one universal truth - that many organisations operating in the digital economy now have to react to change and innovate faster than ever before.
Equally, during these conversations, I’m struck by the extent to which the online economy continues to exert pressure across every aspect of the business, forcing change on almost every level. And fuelling this change, in an always connected/always available world, is sky-high customer expectation, meaning that today’s commercial imperative is not only focused on keeping up with market forces, but finding ways to stay ahead of them.
So when looking across this new economic landscape and the many opportunities it presents, it’s clear the entire organisation has to evolve with it. Businesses need to act and adapt to rapidly changing market conditions and the challenges they bring. And whether it’s an enterprise or SMB, a public sector organisation or service provider, transforming into a fast-moving digital business is a journey many organisations have already begun, while many have yet to start.
Such a journey will require some new thinking, new ideas and perhaps even a new way of looking at your IT infrastructure.
As technology goes, the main commercial asset you have is your network. But to be competitive, the infrastructure needs to grow with you, perform tasks faster – and seamlessly – and just as critically, anticipate and adapt to change.
Welcome to the world of ‘network automation’ and the means to not only make the most of the business intelligence on your network but to convert your IT infrastructure into a strategic asset.
Five things you should know…
Software-defined network: A new approach to managing IT infrastructure, the software defined network (SDN) treats your network as ‘one device’, rather than a great many dedicated devices that need to be changed and managed individually. The software overcomes this complexity to reduce the time and cost of reconfiguring the infrastructure to deliver new services or processes. It also lets you concentrate on the core business of your organisation - instead of the technology - by delivering a fully configurable software-defined network which adapts to the service requirements, rather than the service adapting to the network.
IT infrastructure in a virtual world: Key to automating network functions is the introduction of ‘virtualised’ devices that can perform many different and complex networking functions - much like how a smartphone can also be a virtual pocket calculator one minute, or even a compass the next, with the software ‘app’ defining how the device functions, rather than the device itself. Within the network, virtual devices enable you to adapt, build and re-build and quickly evolve services to meet changing business needs. The wholesale automation of your network not only optimises resources, but can help drive up productivity, enhance the customer experience and still deliver significant cost savings.
Cloud-based computing: In today’s digital economy, moving your business to the cloud is an IT solution that meets a genuine business challenge. Most organisations are looking for ways to achieve greater IT efficiencies and the ability to enhance customer services, at lower costs. Cloud computing represents a new way of achieving these goals by delivering services on a dynamic IT infrastructure. For example, creating a service delivery model that involves automated fulfilment of on-demand services (enabling customers to choose, set up and operate their own service from an online portal) is a pre-requisite for most service providers. And as customer demand expands, the technology can scale to cope with changes to traffic growth, simply and quickly.
Protecting youdata is just the start: Increasingly, ‘cyber’ attacks are becoming an every-day threat, with security breaches resulting in more than just lost data with reputational damage often being a major cause for concern. Security should be viewed as an integral and automated part of your network infrastructure, for protecting your business and your customers. Embedding flexible security solutions (both physical and virtual) directly into your network, means they can adapt to ever-changing threat profiles to safeguard your data, your reputation, and much more besides.
Future-proofing your IT: Many networks are built up over time…adding layer upon layer of complexity to operate and maintain. By moving to a blend of virtual and physical devices, you can simplify the infrastructure and still have complete freedom of choice to expand and scale at a pace to suit your business, while protecting your legacy investment. And as the network becomes a ‘service’, you even have the option of moving the budget to an OPEX-funded model that can help reduce costs.