Digital transformation remains key in preparing businesses for the flexible, data-focused operations they need to compete and be successful. As more firms undergo their own transformation, the lessons learned for others become visible, with strong networks providing a key requirement.
Any digital transformation is a complex undertaking for a business or enterprise. While there are many risk-of-failure points along the journey, if you have a poor data network underpinning your IT, things will go badly. Of the seven key parts of a digital transformation, and the goal of aligning IT and business priorities, at least four rely on data networks:
- Strategy and leadership
- Culture change and communication
- Optimizing processes
- Team structure
And if the network fails or delivers poor performance as the data loads increase during and after the transformation, the business is at risk of losses or a failed transformation project. Collaboration and sharing projects could collapse while data management issues could cripple key functions.
For network and security leaders, creating a strong network requires foundations built for the task, delivering network flexibility, scalability and security to drive a progressive business forward.
Here are five networking components you need to strengthen your digital transformation strategy.
Many businesses don’t have time to build a new network, or the desire to replace a legacy installation. But, as with everything else in business, one can now be delivered as a service, to go along with applications, services, security and other functions or departments.
Network as a service (NaaS) supports retail, hybrid work and many other initiatives by providing a network as a monthly billable item, rather than requiring the costly investment of traditional networks. Installed and managed by experts, there are few of the overheads that come with typical hardware, while the network delivers optimized security and performance, whatever clouds or services it connects to. This allows the business to operate a flexible network, enabling it to get on with productivity and revenue-generating tasks.
The need to be agile and future-ready is front of mind for many business leaders. Being able to rapidly adapt and change business objectives requires a network that can be quickly and automatically adjusted to new or changing conditions.
What holds back organizations from having this agility is being tied to disparate, siloed solutions and tools.
Adopting cloud-native solutions gives organizations a single point of visibility and control, along with a user interface and a continuous stream of updates, keeping organizations fully up-to-date and able to respond to the unexpected.
For organizations that have security and control concerns regarding cloud deployment, cloud-native solutions don’t necessarily have to be deployed in the cloud and can remain on-premises, enhancing an organization’s agility and ability to function in different scenarios.
3. Simplified security
If you can have a network as a service, then what’s wrong with a simplified way to view all the complex network management and security tools? For enterprises with complex WAN backhaul, data centres and multi-office environments, plus an ever-growing network edge, secure access service edge (SASE) simplifies network operations and management, with SD-WAN providing operating flexibility.
IT research company Gartner coined the phrase secure access service edge (SASE) in 2019, as a way to reduce complexity, whatever the hardware vendors and service providers involved. SASE also provides a strong customer experience with good network performance from any location, which is key for critical business tasks and high-speed operations.
Supporting business operations, SASE can prevent intrusions and data loss and keep misguided or bad actors within the business from leaking data. A SASE-powered solution can protect all users, no matter how large an enterprise scales, and as the threat landscape changes. The difference is that they do so through less complex, more understandable applications that simplify the language of IT defence and reduce the number of products needed to protect all data, not just critical files.
All of this helps to maintain business continuity as the organization goes beyond the transformation into a data-smart, digitally-aware one.
As networks (and the services required to secure them) grow, our ability as humans to monitor and optimize them is being exceeded. When coupled with talent scarcities and an unpredictable job market, the case for automation is made clear.
Automation technologies like AIOps can take care of repetitive tasks such as configuration and troubleshooting, freeing up administrators to work on higher-value tasks. Once a network is up and running, AIOps can automatically monitor and diagnose network issues without the need for manual setup or adjustment, solving troubleshooting issues 90% faster and reducing trouble tickets by 50% by seeing issues before the user does.
Incorporating artificial intelligence isn’t without its challenges – AIOps requires both a culture shift and education for staff to help them understand and appreciate the benefits of this technology.
5. Connectivity at scale
With the proliferation of remote work, the distributed workforce and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), traditional VLAN architectures will no longer be able to accommodate large volumes of users and devices coming from a variety of disparate locations.
To cater to this new era of high demand and low latency, all at scale, new architectures and protocols are being made available to meet growing business networking needs. Overlay networking tools, largely using open standards, sit on top of the traditional networks to deliver additional features and security benefits as part of overall SD-WAN and network as a service efforts to cater to the needs of each business and their disparate networks through virtual connections.
Selecting an agile, cloud-native solution that can cater to distributed workforces and ensure performance wherever it’s needed is also crucial - whether it’s consumed in the cloud or on-premises.
The drumbeat of digital transformation continues to push companies of all sizes forward. Those with a well-managed transformation can make their best of their digital investments, scale and attract a modern workforce that gets the benefits of remote or hybrid working through secure networks, delivering a better work/life balance.
All of this through a modern and secure network is a small investment in the big scheme of most transformations. And without it, any business will struggle to deliver on its promises and find its workforce increasingly unhappy and unproductive.
Access the latest business knowledge in IT
Join the conversation...