For public and private enterprise organisation the network is central to realising corporate digital transformation goals. But there’s a wind of change in the air. More organisations are starting to consider if there are better ways of extracting maximum value, functionality, agility and security from their network infrastructure and services.
The increasing adoption of self-service web and cloud-based applications and services has had much to do with this. But so too has the coronavirus pandemic which has proven tens of thousands of people can work from home armed with a decent broadband connection – permanently or most of the time. And there has been more than enough bandwidth readily available from broadband services providers to soak up demand as workers remote access into corporate computing resources and conference over Teams and Zoom.
No wonder many organisations are starting to wonder if maintaining central corporate networks is still necessary.
This is becoming a growing dilemma for CIOs and Heads of Networks. Moreover, in the push for greater flexibility and scalability, there will undoubtedly be a growing requirement for future-proofing the network. This will mean making the network capable of supporting a greater mix of architectures. Therefore, fundamental decisions will need to be taken on whether the network should be an Internet, MPLS or SDWAN architecture. MPLS has been the traditional choice but is now over 20 years old. As a ‘technique’ this is excellent at delivering IP VPNs – but expensive.
However, the emergence of the SD-WAN virtual architecture means enterprises now have more scope for optimizing MPLS while also leveraging less expensive broadband and wireless/LTE connections for securely and cost-effectively connecting users to applications. This can help drive ‘internet first’ agendas.
Quickly and cost-effectively scaling solutions across the entire organisation on a permanent, rather than temporary basis, is now key.
With this comes a greater reliance on flexible WAN, WiFi, Internet and Cloud ‘as-a-service solutions’. Their full potential and resilience will be intrinsically linked to an optimised network infrastructure including the availability of Full Fibre connectivity.
Also bear in mind, with a hugely extended attack surface through extensive remote working, the cybersecurity threat becomes significantly larger. The fact that in the public sector PSN security standards compliance is no longer mandatory increases this risk. For both private and public sector organisations, centrally hosted firewalls and content filtering will therefore need to play a growing role along with adherence to NCSC guidelines.
Today, the network supplier as well as the network itself must adapt.
Apart from continuing to provide support on network design, consultancy and monitoring, the changing network landscape also means managed services suppliers providing their customers broader advice surrounding the implementation of emerging technologies and services such as SD-WAN as well as future ones like SASE (Secure Access Surface Edge).
For CIOs and IT managers, this means it is even more important to check that the incumbent network services supplier is sufficiently responsive, accountable and resourceful when it comes to delivering the level of network agility, scalability and security now required. At the same time, carefully evaluating whether that same supplier will have the capability to support the digital services required in years to come – in line with ongoing corporate digital transformation goals.
Future blog posts will consider the potential power of SD-WANs in overcoming the complex challenges of securely managing hundreds – or many thousands – of sites over traditional WAN architectures. While at the same time, maximising security without compromising agility and user experience.
Watch this space for more blogs and advice on future networking technology trends as well as details about our forthcoming webinars.