The Technology Landscape Has Rapidly ChangedConsider that just five years ago, the majority of an enterprise’s applications were hosted within the four corners of a private data center — one they built or a third-party colocation provider. They had dedicated servers and applications hosted on those servers, and a network that came into that data center.
But in the face of today’s evolving cloud environments, legacy network architectures simply aren’t ready. As enterprises keep pushing sensitive applications that contain sales, marketing, HR and other business data beyond their four walls, they will be looking for ways to better control the data security and performance. With even routine business functions being performed on cloud-based applications such as Microsoft O365 (used by 30 percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees), companies are finding legacy networks are negatively affecting user experience and data performance. Because the WAN is often neglected as part of the process, the modernization of data applications via cloud-enabled solutions experience slow adoption, higher than expected costs and long implementations.
And this pace of change will only accelerate: According to its research, Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.*
Is Your IT Infrastructure Ready?To address these challenges, leading enterprises have embraced a better way: Network Transformation. Network Transformation provides a roadmap for the enterprise to modernize their information technology infrastructure focused on cost reduction, performance improvement and cloud enablement.
Network Transformation enables smarter data delivery via a more efficient, high-speed, lower cost network that is ready to handle your toughest data challenges. This guide will explore some of the triggers that prompt enterprises to consider Network Transformation, how to prepare for it, and the results they can achieve through implementation.
What Inspires Network Transformation?“IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2016 Predictions” data shows that two-thirds of CEOs plan to focus on digital transformation strategies for 2016, and that CIOs will be major players in leading every department through this shift. It also predicts by 2017, “60 percent of digital transformation initiatives will not be able to scale because of a lack of strategic architecture.” A coordinated approach to this change will be vital to success, the report found.
The enterprise application environments are changing quickly from a dedicated environment to cloud-enabled solutions. Gaining control over network performance and cost involves understanding where applications are in the cloud — and then getting closer to them and controlling data flow to the cloud.
Advocate works closely with companies to define Network Transformation solutions designed for the enterprise business objectives, economic drivers and performance challenges. “During an 18-month worldwide acquisition of 32 companies, it became apparent that the current IT infrastructure was unable to support integrated, seamless and highly reliable communications requirements,” said the leader at one large financial services Advocate client. Advocate provided a roadmap for the client that transformed their network architecture resulting in 32% cost savings, while right sizing the network for cloud-based solutions.
These triggers often show up in the enterprise’s bottom line, making change urgent. For one Canadian auto parts retailer, it was clear that an aging data system needed an overhaul sooner rather than later. “The company’s stores had multiple legacy voice and data systems that did not provide the performance and cost structure necessary to meet business goals over the next three to five years,” the company IT leader said.
There’s often a compelling event that inspires an enterprise to explore the possibility of Network Transformation. The big push is often a combination of cost and performance. Some of these factors are listed on the right.
One large financial services company that Advocate worked with is reducing its aging legacy IT infrastructure and maintenance costs through Network Transformation. It will realize more than $30 million in IT savings over the next 10 years through consolidating more than 10 data centers to strategically located neutral data center locations.
The realization that change is necessary may come gradually; a successful company grows its IT network over time, starting with a data center, then a network solution, and then adding to that solution piecemeal. At some point, technology will bypass the network, overwhelming any spot fixes that have been made.
As a result, it’s vital that companies recognize that the time for Network Transformation is long before they “need” it, not when things become untenable. It’s important to recognize that these challenges don’t exist only within the enterprise: They are influenced by things moving quickly in the world of technology. Increased data demands and the convergence of new application needs only magnify internal IT challenges as existing carriers with legacy networks aren’t able to keep up with network architecture needs. On a cloud-enabled network, data can come from anywhere at any time, but legacy networks aren’t designed to optimize that traffic.
It's vital that companies recognize the time for Network Transformation is long before they “need” it.
The most important thing IT departments can do to prepare for a Network Transformation is to understand the importance of using a deliberate approach. Figure out your strategy, then develop a plan and execute it. Working through the shift haphazardly or trying to make a change only when the existing organization resources “have time” to do so will result in chaos.
“Based on Advocate’s free Insider Review, we determined that we should invest in engaging Advocate’s experts to review and assess our network architecture’s performance and cost, and source the network services determined to be required as result,” said Alan Fralick, CIO of Oldcastle, North America’s leading manufacturer of building products and materials. “This led to Advocate working to implement a new high performance network that will drive over $2 million in annual projected savings.”
Before an enterprise gets started on the process, it will need to examine internal barriers and challenges that may slow or delay the transformation. Finding someone who can help with the planning and implementation, identify the right solution for your needs and who can manage the new solution will go a long way toward addressing these issues.
Every enterprise will have a different path through Network Transformation depending on size, industry, resources and other factors. The evaluation and strategy development can be done in two to four months and the implementation of the solution can take six to 18 months, but it’s worth the patient effort.
“The transition to a cloud-based contact center allowed us to move to the right pricing model, which is usage-based,” said one IT management company Advocate worked with. By moving contact centers to the cloud, it increased its agents’ productivity and improved customer satisfaction ratings.
Possible concerns include:
- Uncertainty over resources, such as budgets or time
- Existing contracts or business relationships
- Institutional inertia
What to ExpectNetwork Transformation does more than simply transform your network. It transforms your IT department, the way you do business and your bottom line.
According to the “IDC FutureScape: Worldside CIO Agenda 2016 Predictions” report, CIOs are focused on legacy IT services and how to maintain them with limited budgets, while also increasing digital transformation within the business. When the IT department has help understanding what they have and what they need, it can then help align the business to industry best practices to power a cloud-enabled network and application connectivity for better productivity and cost savings.
No longer will they deal with recurring issues around cost, unreliability and speed — the IT department is now a value-add to the organization that is known for reliability and business acumen. No longer is it a group in the corner; it’s on the forefront of driving the enterprise and innovation.
Other results include:
- Enabling geographic movements of key business processes.
- Providing consistent network performance.
- Getting a better handle on network costs.
- Improving reliability.
- Open access to the application ecosystem.
Network Transformation can give you the opportunity to reduce costs, improve performance and drive business strategy.
After years of patching up legacy networks, many IT departments have turned into crisis management teams, rather than strategic partners who can lead an enterprise to better results. According to the study “The Changing Role of IT Leadership: CIO Perspectives for 2016” from IDC, only 25 percent of CIOs described innovation as their role; more than a third described themselves as service managers.
But Enterprise executives are looking to CIOs to take the lead on transformation: More than 40 percent of them say they see the CIO as an innovation officer.
According to the 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report, with Network Transformation, the IT department itself becomes a business leader in the organization, representing the best of agility, flexibility, service and value to the enterprise. With just 34 percent of CIOs reporting that they are innovation leaders at their organizations, Network Transformation represents an opportunity for them to shine.*
*Gartner Press Release, Gartner Says 6.4 Billion Connected “Things” Will Be in Use in 2016, Up 30 Percent From 2015, November 10, 2015, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3165317