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How Enterprise IT Can Optimize for Key Network Transformation Initiatives

Written by Jay Botelho, Director of Engineering at LiveAction

The modern IT landscape is in a state of flux, as industry-wide adoption of technologies and initiatives like SD-WAN, multi-cloud and edge computing present a host of business opportunities and networking challenges. It's no wonder these technologies are being adopted at such rapid rates. Take SD-WAN for example; some businesses transitioning to SD-WAN have seen cost savings of up to 50%, increased efficiency and improved productivity. As a result, the SD-WAN market is projected to reach $4.5 billion in 2022, according to IDC research. As enterprises become more reliant on their networks for business growth and operational efficiency, strategic IT decisions about the network are, in fact, strategic business decisions. Since so many network operations (NetOps) teams are tackling these network changes today, we commissioned survey of network and IT professionals to uncover the top business objectives that are driving network transformations today. 

Overall, the research found that organizations are driving their IT teams to focus on network transformation projects in an effort to meet business goals like increasing network agility and cutting down on costs. The top three network transformation projects for enterprise IT in 2019 are deploying switch infrastructure, expanding cloud infrastructure and expanding Wi-Fi systems. As far as troubleshooting priorities go, 45% of enterprise IT professionals consider improving application performance across the entire network to be their largest focus. And, more than a third of networking professionals cited improved network agility as their highest priority in 2019, reinforcing it as one of the most important business goals in the industry.

What is network agility and why is it so critical for NetOps? From a technical perspective, network agility is when network infrastructure has the ability to effectively self-manage itself through the automation of configurations and policies. But more broadly, the term is being used to describe when NetOps teams are equipped with the scale and flexibility to move at the speed of their connected businesses. As we know, key business goals are driving IT to pursue major network transformation projects, which add a tremendous amount of complexity, and require highly effective optimization and troubleshooting across all network domains. By improving network agility, NetOps teams are able to keep up with constant network changes and allow their organization to capitalize on the tangible business benefits these technologies can offer.

This can be hard to achieve, though. NetOps teams carry the heavy burden of having to manage and monitor today's complex networks, but the numerous legacy tools they use don't provide them with the proper visibility to do so. Unfortunately, many teams are using up to 10 network monitoring tools just to keep up with the challenges these network transformation initiatives present. So, we weren't surprised that survey respondents reported consolidating network monitoring tools as their highest network improvement initiative for 2019.  

The survey found that 35% have poor visibility into performance across all fabrics of the network. Poor visibility leads to time-consuming troubleshooting, which can have negative outcomes for the business with network downtime, decreased productivity and frustrated users. What's more, 43% of network professionals are challenged to find time to focus on strategic business initiatives because they spend too much time troubleshooting the network! Additionally, without proper visibility, NetOps cannot monitor the network proactively. 38% of NetOps cited that they are unable to proactively identify network performance issues, which forces them into a reactive position, scrambling to troubleshoot problems after they've already begun to impact the business.

So with all of the network optimization and troubleshooting issues associated with network transformation initiatives, how can IT teams achieve network agility?

Fortunately, unified network performance monitoring and diagnostic (NPMD) platforms can help with these issues. These platforms give NetOps teams access to end-to-end network visibility, allowing them to monitor and manage the entire network, even at endpoints or in hybrid environments. As a result, administrators can proactively monitor and identify network issues, which leads to faster and easier troubleshooting. Beyond that, they can actually focus their time and energy on more strategic business initiatives.

Unified NPMD platforms help eliminate the issue of tool sprawl as well. Having one central unified platform can eliminate the numerous legacy tools that most IT teams are using. Legacy network performance management solutions were designed to solve specific network domain issues, such as VoIP performance degradation, etc. But these legacy tools create performance blind spots since they can only see part of the network. To make the network more responsive and flexible, today's NetOps teams need network performance management tools that provide visibility across the entire enterprise, from SD-WAN to endpoints and even the cloud. This allows them to not only manage change, but to optimize network performance over time.

With comprehensive end-to-end visibility from unified NPMD platforms, NetOps can achieve the level of network agility needed to support the company and achieve its business goals. These solutions can help businesses and NetOps teams focus on what really matters by eliminating time-consuming troubleshooting, and making it easier to plan, deploy, and optimize strategic network transformations.

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About the Author

Jay Botelho is the Director of Engineering at LiveAction.

Published Tuesday, July 02, 2019 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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