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Are networks up to the ambitions of digital business?

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Mobility and collaboration, cloud, hybrid IT, the Internet of Things… Digital technology is driving business transformation, and networks are more than ever core to business strategy.

Andre van Schalkwyk

Andre van Schalkwyk | Senior Practice Manager Network Consulting

Every day, almost unnoticed, they are expected to:
• deliver a great customer on-line experience
• enable instant collaboration between employees, suppliers, and partners
• deliver the vast quantities of data now available for intelligent analytics
• distribute enterprise apps to people and machines, wherever they are in the world, and at a speed that enables them to do their jobs
• and they have to do all this consistently and securely.

With other looming trends looking even bigger – after many years ‘bumping along the bottom’, artificial intelligence and smart robotics are at the inflection point for widespread adoption – tomorrow’s requirements will possibly be harder to meet.

But are networks capable of stepping up to the challenge?

Most corporate networks were architected for an out-dated paradigm, and then built and refreshed piecemeal. They’re not ideal for the demands of the future digital business. But things are changing.

The two underlying technology factors driving the new paradigm are the tumbling cost/price of compute power, and the ability to produce innovative code almost at will.

These factors could lend networks the flexibility, affordability, and rigour digital business needs. And they’re manifesting themselves as software-defined networking and its cousin, network function virtualisation. Technologies that hold the promise for end-to-end automation at the speed required by the business.

As enterprises struggle to connect hybrid clouds and hybrid IT, to connect intelligent machines, and maintain an acceptable customer experience on the Web, these technologies offer more than a ray of hope. However, the shocking fact is that of the 320 enterprise IT estates on which we conducted Technology Lifecycle Management Assessments last year, only one had an SD-WAN ready network!

This is just one of the findings from our Network Barometer Report 2016. Many of its findings point to sensible upkeep and management of the world’s enterprise networks. Others border on the alarming.

The Report’s content is drawn from those assessments, as well as analysis of 300,000 incidents reported to our global service centres and covering 1.5 million network assets across 105 countries.

The Report shows the current impact of digitisation on enterprise networks in terms of their ‘refresh rate’, maintenance, MTTR, and security – as well as strategic issues such as IPv6 and SDN.

It gives clear indications as to how organisations, in all sectors of the economy, are managing their network forward so they can fully participate in the next industrial revolution. It provides a useful benchmark against which to assess your own network’s current state of health and readiness for the challenges ahead.

Crucially, it points out the issues and trouble spots that every CIO and Network Manager should be aware of as they transform their network into a digital business ready network.