Modernize your network to emerge smarter from disruption

By: Abin Moozhiyil

Today’s networks must be modern, agile and efficient enough to adapt to change and support cloud transformation. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the journey back to work has been challenging for global enterprises and their employees. We’ve seen enterprises around the world combat immediate disruption by embracing new ways of working to support a remote workforce. Business continuity became a key priority while long-term needs such as digital transformation took a back seat. Now companies are turning their attention back to digital transformation, both to emerge stronger from disruption and, more importantly, to get back to work. Network modernization is critical part of this effort.

Enterprise the back-end network, to provide uninterrupted connectivity to a dispersed workforce. In many cases, network infrastructure at enterprises around the world has exceeded expectations in delivering a seamless experience. This success has been made possible by global telecommunications service provider networks supported by technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) delivered by services integrators — as well as the relentless efforts of millions of network engineers.

As we navigate the pandemic and learn to live with it, enterprises are shifting focus from initial response and damage control to reopening and emerging stronger from disruption. The return to work initiative is gaining traction as companies start thinking about their long-term, strategic response. These critical moves require a strong foundation: Your network must be modern, agile and efficient enough to adapt to change and support ongoing cloud transformation.

IDC whitepaper: Network modernization – Essential for digital transformation and multicloud

Modernize your network to adapt to change

The application landscape has been redefined by cloud and multicloud, and your network must adapt, both architecturally and operationally. Enterprises need network transformation to accelerate agility and efficiency in the cloud, optimize costs and deliver applications with security and resiliency.

Global IT decision-makers often experience cloud-related network issues caused by legacy infrastructure. Traditional networks struggle to support the distributed nature of cloud services, resulting in a degraded user experience. The network and interconnectivity across physical infrastructure, virtual infrastructure and as-a-service consumption hinder broad cloud adoption across the enterprise.

Successful network transformation challenges us to think about the network in new ways and requires commitment from business, development and operational leaders across the enterprise. You need to define the right modernization and network orchestration approach for your particular organization. For faster time to market and network resiliency, your network also needs to be programmable.

A programmable network is achieved when SDN decouples network service control and data planes from the switches, routers and other network appliances. Once they’re abstracted from the underlying infrastructure, these controls become directly programmable and management can be centralized. This enables the network to automatically request and have services provisioned as needed through application programming interfaces (APIs).

Many organizations don’t know where to begin as they seek to modernize their networks for digital transformation and cloud and find themselves daunted by the breadth and depth of the challenge. Engagement with a trusted partner can help you make sense of how your networks can be modernized, as well as how such modernization can be achieved within the bounds of your existing technology investments, and the skill sets and comfort levels of IT and network personnel.

SDN has revolutionized the way networks are conceptualized, designed, deployed and managed. The enterprise network of the future will drive virtualization across existing infrastructure with SDN, which will enable wide-area networking at scale.

As workloads shift to cloud and applications are modernized for cloud infrastructure, the next step is service chaining the virtualized network functions and platforms that reside in your data center and cloud environments. To succeed here, you will need orchestration, automation and a DevOps mindset to drive consistency across these diverse environments.

Webcast: Network transformation – Enabling your journey to cloud

Emerge smarter

Beyond modernizing your network infrastructure, here are six key areas where technology can help your enterprise emerge smarter from this disruption, stronger and better prepared for disruptions in the future.

  1. Work safe and work smart to safeguard the health, safety and productivity of your people in a changing workplace. Explore technologies to help with workplace re-entry planning, facilities management, workplace safety, contact tracing, care management and customer and employee care.
  2. Engage customers anywhere by deploying features like chat and virtual agents to increase productivity and provide timely responses to your customers and employees.
  3. Enhance IT resiliency and business continuity with end-to-end data protection management to address your unique backup, retention and retrieval needs.
  4. Accelerate agility and efficiency with cloud to operate your business anywhere and adapt to changes without compromise.
  5. Address new cybersecurity risks, uncover hidden threats and make more informed risk-based decisions.
  6. Reduce operational cost and ensure supply chain resiliency with actionable AI-based insights, real-time insights and automated decision-making where it makes sense.

Now is the time for enterprises to dig deep and rethink how business works. We’ve all been given a mandate for change, to challenge our beliefs about what matters most to the viability, competitiveness and health of our organizations and workforces. Together, we can make lasting changes that will help us become stronger as individuals, as businesses and as a society. The actions we take right now can help us grow smarter, more resilient and agile using technology—not just to survive today, but to thrive for years to come.

So, let’s get to it.

Prepare for the next wave of cloud with 5G-enabled edge and software-defined networking

About The Author

Abin Moozhiyil

WW Product Marketing Leader, IBM Services

Abin Chacko Moozhiyil is the Global Product Marketing Leader for IBM Services, Network. He brings many years of experience in leading marketing and business development globally in networking, telecom, cloud and analytics. Abin has been deeply involved in driving Network Services’ market positioning and business growth at IBM in SDN and NFV, SD-WAN, 5G, Edge... Read more