Supporting Digital Transformation
Over the last 20 years, we have traditionally built networks to support applications that typically reside in a company’s data centre. How this has been done, specifically in the UK and the European market, is to go to big service provider partners who have enabled managed wide area network service contracts. They use technologies such as MPLS to take the complexity away from an end-user, building a network to support that environment, and bringing remote locations to the applications that sit within the data centre.
What’s changed significantly over the last three or four years from a digital transformation standpoint is that applications in the business’s environment are growing exponentially. Literally, everything we do is being wrapped in technology. It’s being proceduralised to drive efficiency, to create better experiences, and we are no longer just working in the data centre but also moving to the public cloud.
We are doing so much more with technology and using more applications, replacing processes that used to be manual. It’s a richer experience in terms of what we need and can do and not only is it being done within our environment, it tends to be done outside of our environment as well. Those networks that we built and outsourced to our service providers are becoming less and less relevant in terms of the architecture that they have. As they’re outsourced to service providers, the reality is that they run a very high risk of becoming strategically isolated from the digital transformation initiative.
The company is moving forward with its transformation objectives but isn’t necessarily bringing the network into the conversation until the very end. The organisation views the network as a cost that gets eroded down to its lowest common denominator – “Well if I did this, I could save that”. You then start to create this debt from a technology standpoint where you’re looking to do more with technology but you’re eroding the fundamental platform on which it’s delivered. You’re in a situation that if you don’t do anything about it – you end up building the equivalent of a Rolls Royce with a set of Mini wheels, where the network is the Mini wheels, the wheels turn just fine, but nobody’s going anywhere.
This is the situation businesses are dealing with; because it’s outsourced and it’s separate from the transformation activity or has the risk of being separate from the transformation activity – you lose context. The network is overlooked instead of being part of the conversation and is not considered, planned for and upgraded in a timely fashion. Everybody gets a shock because part of the money that’s associated with digital transformation, doesn’t manifest in the way that the business is expecting and there’s this whole cost that hasn’t been encapsulated at a network level. Projects fail, projects stall and networks take an extraordinarily long time to be able to upgrade in the traditional sense.
The trinity of flexibility, agility and visibility
SD-WAN gives flexibility and agility to the network allowing organisations to get visibility back. You can make higher quality, earlier decisions about what you need to do, and when you do it, and what additional resources are needed within your network. It also allows you to use commodity components as opposed to really expensive bespoke static components that used to be the reality of an MPLS network.
For instance, I could deploy an additional broadband connection, as opposed to needing to upgrade my very expensive MPLS Ethernet attached connection. I could add 4G into the network where I would have had to go down this stepped upgrade.
An awful lot of organisations find themselves in this horrible place. They’re looking to do the transformation in order to drive initiatives that make the business more money or save the business money, However, they find themselves hamstrung by the fact that they’ve got this huge burden to upgrade the fundamental foundation that those initiatives are delivered – the network. Putting in an SD-WAN solution brings flexibility and agility to make those initiatives happen in a more straightforward, frictionless type of approach.
What you don’t normally get within a WAN managed service contract is a view of what applications are consuming in each location. In an SD-WAN world, you get 100% visibility of that, which allows you to make better quality decisions about what you can do to enable bandwidth for initiatives that are coming down the path. Who wouldn’t want that?
Managing Director at Gyrocom - Helping customers build better networks.