Author: Simon Pamplin, EMEA technical director at Silver Peak
As businesses increasingly embrace digital transformation, it has become critical for CEOs to ensure their infrastructure investment supports the initiative. According to Gartner*, 47 percent of CEOs say they are being “challenged” by their board of directors to show progress in shifting toward a digital business model.
By improving IT operations, organisations can progress, and even accelerate, their digital transformation initiatives efficiently and successfully. ZK Research has revealed that the biggest barrier to success is that IT currently spends around 78 percent of its budget and 80 percent of its time just maintaining IT operations, leaving little time and resource left for innovation. So, the question is whether organisations should cut the operations budget or invest more in transforming operations?
The Cisco IT Operations Readiness Index 2018 predicted a dramatic change in IT operations as CIOs embrace analytics and automation. The study reported that 88 percent of respondents identify investing in IT operations as key to driving pre-emptive practices and enhancing customer experience.
What does this have to do with the wide area network (WAN)?
According to the IT Operations Readiness Index, 73 percent of respondents will collect WAN operational or performance data, and 70 percent will analyse WAN data and leverage the results to further automate network operations. However, security is the most data-driven infrastructure today, compared to other IT infrastructure functions, such as Internet of Things (IoT), IP telephony, network infrastructure, data centre infrastructure, WAN connectivity and more.
The big questions are: how do you collect operations data and what data should you collect? How do you analyse it? And how do you then automate IT operations based on the results? This is by no means a simple task. IT departments use a combination of data collected internally and by outside vendors to aggregate information used to transform operations and make better business decisions.
In a recent survey** by Frost & Sullivan, 94 percent of respondents indicated they will deploy a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) in the next 24 months. SD-WAN addresses the gap that router-centric WAN architectures were not designed to fill. A business-driven SD-WAN, designed from the ground up to support a cloud-first business model, provides significantly more network and application performance visibility, significantly assisting enterprises to realise the transformational promise of a digital business model. In fact, Gartner indicates that 90 percent of WAN edge decisions will be based on SD-WAN by 2023.
Improving IT operations and facilitating a successful digital transformation
All SD-WAN solutions are not created alike. One of the key components that organisations need to consider and evaluate is having complete observability across the network and applications through a single pane of glass. Without visibility, IT risks running inefficient operations that will stifle digital transformation initiatives. This real-time visibility must provide:
Operational metrics enabling IT/CIO’s to shift from a reactive toward a predictive practice
A centralised dashboard that allows IT to monitor, in real-time, all aspects of network operations – a dashboard that has flexible knobs to adjust and collect metrics from all WAN edge appliances to accelerate problem resolution
Ultimately, by providing the highest levels of visibility across the entire WAN, IT can spend less time troubleshooting network and application bottlenecks and fielding support/help desk calls day and night. As a result, IT has more time to focus on strategic business and transformation initiatives.
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