The Business Case for Network Transformation

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network transformation

Recognizing the critical importance of network infrastructure—and planning now to support it properly—will move an organization toward a more profitable future.

Embrace analytics to predict and prevent network issues. Would predicting a network outage two days in advance be helpful? Increasingly, organizations are shifting from reactive to proactive and even predictive service assurance, using big data and analytics to analyze network information and trouble tickets. The most critical issues can be prioritized and addressed, preventing background problems from becoming visible to users and harming the business. By using network analytics, a leading services firm was able to predict 76 percent of WAN/metropolitan area network link failures two to three days in advance, enabling it to take action and improve network availability.

With guidance from analytics, capital investments can be prioritized to preemptively replace devices that are most likely to fail. For example, an Indian firm determined that 20 percent of its devices were causing 66 percent of network failures. Knowing this enabled the firm to make properly prioritized software patches and hardware upgrades. Analytics can also enable better business decisions, accelerate deployments and determine which problems are priorities based on their business impact.

Prepare for network virtualization and software-defined networking. The market is delivering a clear message: Create a more dynamic and flexible network. Now that businesses are reaping the benefits of virtualized servers, storage and databases, they seek the same advantages from the network.

Virtualization and SDN offer greater flexibility and responsiveness to meet more fluid requirements that are driven by the rapid adoption of the latest technology trends. They are also delivering savings on hardware, bandwidth and operations: Early SDN projects are delivering network administration cost savings of up to 50 percent.

While neither network virtualization nor SDN is ready for full deployment in the typical enterprise, now is the time for testing and strategy development. Focus on virtual networks in the data center, since these have shown early success. Virtualization dramatically changes the architecture of the data center network, creating new challenges, such as how to isolate traffic and where to place firewalls, load balancers and other devices.

Network virtualization and SDN will change the way the entire network is provisioned and maintained. Organizations that get comfortable with the technology now through initial planning and pilot projects will enjoy significant advantages.

Although demands are greater than ever, networking technology is also experiencing an unprecedented level of innovation that is turning challenges into strategic advantages. Translating network impact into business impact is essential. For most companies, the increased desire to communicate and collaborate with organizational staff, customers and an ever-more-complex ecosystem means that “the network is the business.”

Recognizing the critical importance of network infrastructure—and planning now to support it properly—will help accelerate digital transformation, as well as the path to an intelligent infrastructure, moving the organization toward a more profitable future.

Larry Socher is managing director of network transformation at Accenture.

This article was originally published on 2014-01-29
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