Digital infrastructure is under mounting pressure from a variety of powerful technology trends. Whether that pressure stems from DevOps, the cloud, AI, mobile or big data, almost every organization is looking to the future with an eye on modernizing their mission-critical IT systems.
Unfortunately, the challenge of future-proofing IT infrastructure is often exacerbated by the widespread reliance on legacy technology. Add to that the growing data connectivity complexities across the entire technology landscape, and you face the difficult task of balancing your networking strategy with your other—sometimes competing—technology priorities.
In particular, legacy networks often lack the performance, control and flexibility today’s digital business models rely on. And they’re increasingly vulnerable to security risks. If that wasn’t enough to give you pause about your network, older technologies often consume a disproportionate amount of your IT budget that you could otherwise invest in modernizing your underlying IT infrastructure.
That fundamental disconnect leaves little room for maneuvering when current thinking shows that agility is so closely linked to success—and where having a purpose-built network infrastructure is key to successful digital transformation. Just as a new house needs a solid foundation, your digital future requires the right digital infrastructure to meet your long-term challenges.
The Issues of Network Modernization Raise Some Big Questions
Think for a moment about the key issues you face. Can you afford to be at the mercy of an outdated or inflexible network? Can you ignore the enormous potential of transformative technologies? Are you prepared to risk falling behind more agile competitors? Or, alternatively, can digital transformation give you a significant competitive advantage?
Whatever your priorities are, the bottom line is digital transformation almost always requires advanced on-demand connectivity that can be deployed quickly and cost-effectively. To meet this need, many businesses are turning to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) and network functions virtualization (NFV) to build agile networks designed to solve your data connectivity needs today and well into the future.
Meeting the Challenge 1: SD-WANs
SD-WANs are purpose-built solutions that deliver agile, secure and scalable connectivity by leveraging intelligent software. One of their main advantages is the centralized network orchestration, control and zero-touch provisioning that provides high-performance networking within a borderless infrastructure across highly distributed enterprises.
This high level of flexibility facilitates digital transformation, because SD-WANs can leverage all types of connectivity options (such as MPLS, broadband, 4G and 5G) while automating network functions. One big advantage is the ability to simplify the connection of people, devices and locations to the cloud, providing seamless access to the virtual functions and business services they need.
SD-WANs also help abstract the complexity of the underlying network to create a virtual layer that simplifies a wide range of network operations. The major benefit here is that there’s no need to manage multiple layers of hardware (such as routers, firewalls and load balancers) that have historically complicated network management.
This is particularly important for geographically distributed organizations that want to simplify branch or remote office networks, given that SD-WANs can connect new offices or branch locations to the corporate network in hours, rather than weeks or months. This provides a proven way to quickly deploy new apps and services while controlling, or even reducing, networking costs.
Meeting the Challenge 2: NFV
Combining SD-WANs with NFV can deliver even greater business benefits since NFV utilizes key network functions on an “as-a-service” basis, improving both network agility and efficiency. It achieves this by replacing legacy network hardware with software that runs in the cloud.
This approach offers a cost-effective way to modernize diverse network functions ranging from intrusion detection to traffic prioritization and network performance optimization. In this way, you can easily reconfigure your networks to meet the data connectivity needs that lie at the heart of digital transformation. Best of all, you can do so without introducing unnecessary risk, complexity or cost.
Modernizing Your Network for Digital Transformation
Modernizing your network infrastructure can deliver the appropriate scale, security and performance needed for modern business. In particular, SD-WANs can help ensure your digital transformation goes hand-in-hand with an equivalent modernization of your network infrastructure. As a result, you can simplify your operations, improve security, respond more quickly to business demands and deliver a much more compelling customer experience.