Network Transformations - 2016 Trends

Transformational.  That’s is the word I would use to describe current business technology trends. Big Data, the Internet of Things, the cloud - digital everything is transforming our lives, both personally and professionally.

Any such categorization, however, is meaningless without explanation. No single term or phrase can possibly provide insight into the what, where or how your business can capitalize on technology or identify the right technologies that will have the greatest impact on your business.

What is your digital future? There is a phrase coined by Brian Solis that captures the essence of doing nothing - Digital Darwinism: “The phenomenon that occurs when technology and society evolve faster than an organization can adapt.” According to Mr. Solis, do nothing and the end will be swift and sure for your organization.

We are beginning to see the Internet of Things and Big Data gain traction across enterprises, cities and industries. Mobility continues to disrupt early concepts of how technology is used, and wearables are only one example of just how highly personalized technology has become.

Can your organization support the wave of technology poised to dominate commerce and your business operations? For most, it is a race against time.

Everything will be connected.

The digital business is a connected business. Research by Gartner indicates that the 1.1 billion connected “things” used by smart cities in 2015 will rise to 9.7 billion by 2020; and that is only one industry example. McKinsey projects there will be 1 trillion connected devices in less than a decade.

Networks, or rather many interconnected networks, are the heart of everything digital. The network is the electronic mesh connecting every digital device and system. It enables healthcare delivery, education, and virtually every financial transaction. It is even becoming an important part of your guest experience at hotels, such as a Marriott.

The digital business is a connected businessBut for most networks, there is trouble under the surface. They were not designed to meet today’s needs, are limiting business agility and a great deal of replacement and innovation must occur. Quickly.

According to Zeus Karravala, lead analyst at ZK Research, up to 83% of network budgets are consumed by just “keeping the lights on.” This is the reality for todays IT organizations, at a time when the pace of digital change is moving faster than the ability of business infrastructure to adapt.

Growth of intelligence and automation

The need for network transformation has become urgent as the adoption of virtualization, cloud computing and software defined networking grows. Equally challenging to the network and IT staff are the applications, media and devices today's networks must support. Network intelligence, agility and scalability are no longer nice-to-have options.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is one technology strategy that brings more intelligence and automation into the network. It continues to be a maturing technology that contributes to network automation and agility. Though the SDN promise continues to mature, the approach is alive and well. Today, it is delivering many forms of automation that optimize application delivery from the data center across the converged campus LAN and WLAN.

But SDN is not the only example of advanced networking technology. Intelligent, application-fluent networks are actively adapting to the dynamic requirements of virtualized workloads and virtual machine (VM) movement. Because they are application and user aware, they are able to dynamically adapt and apply quality of service (QoS) to application flows across the entire network.

Intelligent Fabric technology highlights emerging advances in network automation and intelligence that enable automated deployment and a self-healing network fabric. Mike Fratto of Current Analysis calls ALE’s Intelligent Fabric a “very capable solution,” bringing a number of important operational features that simplify IT tasks, including configuring a new network in minutes and adding new switches to an existing network.

Everything as a service – OPEX vs. CAPEX

As-a-service business models have become common within the IT industry, proving to be scalable, secure and feature-rich. The move from traditional CAPEX investment to subscription models is improving IT agility and service delivery.

As organizations outsource more IT tasks, “on-demand” networks become a very attractive part of a managed service model. Many organisations simply do not require the same capacity all year round. A true network-as-a-service model simplifies the procurement and management of network equipment and are often a more cost effective alternative that frees IT investment and staff for more important projects

Network-on-demand will emerge as a very attractive infrastructure model in 2016.

Full speed ahead

As 2016 unfolds, CIOs will accelerate efforts to keep up with technology’s rapid pace of innovation by adopting new technologies and business models. Technology teams have a burdensome mandate to deliver cost-effective solutions that meet the requirements of a truly digital business. The need for new tools, managing the growth of mobility and a more scalable infrastructure are clear challenges, but solutions are emerging for those willing to break with traditional IT assumptions and practices.  

 

 

About the author