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By DXC Technology
While the events of 2020 caused widespread disruption across the world, the reality is that almost every business sector, whether that is government, enterprises, SMEs or start-ups, has been facing massive disruption since the start of the new millennium.
Business models have been turned inside out as technology has enabled customers to get closer to the brands, products, and services they want. At the same time, the organisations delivering those products and services have faced new competition that has taken advantage of new and emerging technologies to reinvent business models and create new products and services. Organisations must first recognise that the world is constantly changing and they need strategies to manage their way though that constant flux.
Organisations have had to adapt in many ways. Workforces are expected to be able to work from anywhere. That means network infrastructure needs to adapt. In the past, most employees were working within centralised office networks which utilised applications and data through tightly controlled internal infrastructure. But the new world turns that inside out.
Networks need to support teams that could be working from multiple locations using myriad of different technologies. A July 2020 report from Freeform Dynamics, ‘A New Perspective on the Modern Workplace’, found that almost five times as many employees were working remotely when compared to pre-pandemic times. That means old assumptions about networks need to be reassessed. Instead of teams connecting through known infrastructure, access to systems and data needs to be flexible and able to accommodate shifting needs.
Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) have evolved to accommodate these shifting needs. By allowing organisations to dynamically allocate network capacity, organisations can quickly adapt. Instead of forecasting network capacity per application or service months or years in advance, resources can be reimagined as a pool that can be shifted between applications and services as needed.
The threat landscape has shifted as well. Malicious actors continually search for new vulnerabilities and refine their tools and methods to maximise the return on their investment whether that’s through ransomware, business email compromise or stealing data.
By building security into the design of a network, it is possible to detect and block threats before they cause widespread disruption or damage to an organisation.
As well as workers being spread far and wide, today’s application landscape has substantially evolved. While pendulum swung from the mainframe era to client server in the 1990s, the past decade has seen things change even more. Today, it is common for a business to have a mixture of on-premises applications as well Platform- and Infrastructure- as-a-Service services and, potentially, some Software-as-a-Service applications in its portfolio.
That mix of multiple work sites for staff and a multicloud application environment means the network needs of today are extremely complex. To overcome that complexity, organisations need to lean on two technologies.
In a complex environment, network managers and technicians need to use automation to reduce the workload. Everything from onboarding new users, adding capacity to cloud-based services through to shifting network capacity can be automated. For example, if a particular application is being hit hard by users, capacity can be automatically allocated once a specific trigger is reached. Or, when a user leaves the organisation, automation can be used to find all that user’s accounts across multiple systems, archive their data and remove them.
Artificial intelligence is also emerging as a critical technology. The increasing complexity of networks, burgeoning number of cybersecurity threat and attacks, and need to ensure on-prem and multicloud systems are all working optically means the volume of information today’s operations teams face is far more than what a human can handle. Data from the Cisco DNA Center found that enterprise networks reported 4,400 network events.
AI can be used to augment the capacity and capability of operations teams. When leveraged in concert with automation, it can be possible to detect and manage network issues, and even some security incidents, faster than human operators. This also allows operations teams to focus on higher value tasks such as ensuring new applications and services are delivered to the organisation rather than being ‘trapped’ into managing repetitive day-to-day tasks.
Pulling AI and automation together allows operations teams to leverage intent-based networks to reduce network policy complexity and repetitive tasks associated with traditional configuration management. With over a third of organisations planning for intent-based networks by 2022, according to the Cisco Global Networking Trends Report, these technologies are pivotal.
In an everchanging world, organisations need to be ready to shift their resources to meet challenges and to embrace opportunities faster than ever before. There is constant pressure to evolve and develop new offerings for customers and ensure teams are equipped with the applications and service they need. Technologies like SD-WAN, automation and AI give organisations the tools they need to deliver what is needed quickly and securely.