Why the unified campus network is the ideal future-proof digital-ready architecture

The quest to achieve a true digital business is impacting across all sectors and verticals, and business leaders know it. The drive to transition to digital business is almost the entire reason that Gartner research showed that worldwide IT spending will hit $3.7 trillion this year – an increase of over six per cent, and the highest growth rate of growth in over a decade. [1]

A survey of business executives, cited in Forbes [2], showed that a staggering 90 per cent of executives say that digital technology plays a central role in their overarching business goals.

When almost all businesses are that focused on digital technologies, and the hype behind digital business is so strong, there will always be some who are approaching the opportunity as a case of “spend the money now, work out the details later,” which the Forbes article also notes. From the report, 53 per cent of organisations do not feel prepared to effectively use AI, blockchain, facial-recognition, and other digital technologies.

“It’s not uncommon for organisations to end up with technologies that don’t work, are difficult to use, or butt heads with other systems,” the report notes.

Having a strong network of wired and wireless access infrastructure, such as what a Huawei CloudCampus network provides, is essential in ensuring that a business can subsequently leverage the advantages of digital transformation technology to every edge of business.

With the unified wired and wireless network in place as the foundation, organisations are then able to accelerate the digital transformation process without risk and are able to re-architect their IT infrastructure to embrace disruptive technology including IoT, VR/AR or “mixed reality”, multi-cloud and AI. In other words, they’re able to avoid the issues inherent with throwing money at the issue without a disciplined approach.

Unified network access and simplified management is key because, in making it the network the cornerstone, the organisation will not be increasing the complexity in the environment, and also ensuring that it remains agile.

How organisations are benefiting from digital transformation

Digital disruption is affecting all organisations, and all organisations are looking to transformation exercises to overcome – and then capitalise on – the disruption.

In retail, for example, the highly competitive environment is being driven by ongoing technology innovation, and those organisations that want to stay on top need to invest in digital transformation in order to meet both their challenges and opportunities.

In addition to meeting an increasingly-strict regulatory environment that includes PCI-DSS, data privacy (for example: GDPR in EU) and security, among other requirements, retailers also need to meet the needs of consumers who are expecting a digitally-enhanced experience, whether that’s in the provision of in-store Wi-Fi, loyalty apps, and self-checkout service.

This is also causing retailers to look to shift to IoT-ready Wi-Fi infrastructure in order to form the foundation to enable IoT, which is then used for enhancing inventory management (electronic shelf labelling), security, and ease of management across the network.

Healthcare is a very different space to retail, but it too is facing technology disruption, and organisations need to undergo digital transformation processes in order to handle the digitisation of patient records, and the shift to storing – and accessing – those on the cloud. A concern that healthcare has had in shifting to more digitally-focused technologies is the reliability of the infrastructure. Hospitals simply can’t afford downtime, where any outage could be catastrophic, so for healthcare, having stable, high-performance Wi-Fi networks is critical.

Education and higher education are a very different sector again, and in that sector, technology is playing a major role in classrooms and dormitories, for both work and the entertainment of students. For one example of sheer innovation, higher education’s lab asset management requires a fully IoT-capable Wi-Fi network as the key to the overall solution.

The reasons that drive digital transformation change from sector to sector, but the need for digital transformation is constant.

The role of the cloud campus network in enabling digital transformation

The technology underpinning most digital transformation exercises can be seen as three-faceted:

  • It’s about the Internet of Things (IoT), and connecting sensors, devices and data sources at a large scale to the overall network, while simplifying management and maintaining high levels of security.
  • It’s about establishing an environment that can be more agile in response in order to be ready for new services or changes, whether that is cloud services, on-premise, scale-out or scale-up.
  • It’s about increased mobility and ensuring an excellent user experience at every moment. This gives businesses and their customers access to data and services while on the move. Applications should also be able to be moved quickly and efficiently into the cloud as part of the mobility story, where they can leverage the power of the cloud to enhance computing processes.

Those technologies then enable AI, Big Data, SDN and other solutions that provide the benefits of an investment in digital transformation.

Without a solid networking technology foundation, other digital applications are unlikely to function as planned. CloudCampus is specifically designed to provide a straightforward and elegant solution to finding that networking foundation. It consists in two parts, using high-quality wired and wireless equipment to build a unified infrastructure across the enterprise including WLAN, LAN, WAN. Above the infrastructure CloudCampus leveraging SDN, big data, AI and cloud technologies build a digital twin layer with capability like, intent translation, network automation, cloud-based management, AI-powered network operation etc.

For one example of how CloudCampus network approach has benefitted an organisation; a retailer with over 11,000 stores across the globe needed a solution that would allow it to rapidly deploy and configure new technologies (for example: self-check-out, in-store guide) and effectively manage its inventory and logistics at a large scale (for example: electronic shelf label). With so many stores innovation had become challenging to roll out across the network in a timely fashion.

A “zero touch store installation” capability provided by a cloud management network solution, which tapped into the CloudCampus network foundation, allowed technicians to fully setup and install network equipment simply by scanning QR codes once the devices are at the store. This now allows entire fleets of devices and solutions to be rolled out across the entire network of retail stores as quickly as the physical boxes can be delivered, and the technicians doing the installations don’t need any professional technology skills.

After deployment of the network, devices are automatically managed in the cloud, while RFID installed on devices allow the devices to be automatically authorised and connected to the network securely. Data generated from network equipment is automatically captured by the CloudCampus management centre, and either used for further network performance monitoring and diagnostics or predictive user experience management.

This retailer is just one example of how CloudCampus can underpin innovation and digital transformation, and the solution is built with flexibility across requirements in mind; the options of deployment of management centre could either be in-cloud or on-premise, which are upon enterprise customers’ requirement. Comparing with other network infrastructure options, CloudCampus is currently the only solution that can provide unified architecture for SMB and enterprise with full-stack of network capabilities, such as network automation, predictive O&M to ensure a high standard of user experiences, and so on.

The interest in digital transformation and digital technologies is nearly universal. What can let an organisation down is making those investments without first considering the additional load and requirements that digital technologies make on networks. The executives that will best position their organisations for an increasingly disrupted environment are the ones that will first make the necessary investment into the network.

[1] https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3871063

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2018/04/10/digital-transformation-heres-the-money-well-sort-it-all-out-later/#4161ec1177ef

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