Businesses are continually being told that they need to transform themselves digitally. They are also regularly warned that integral to this process is the transformation of their network. Beyond that, they are advised that the security of transformed networks is critical. Let’s examine these imperatives.
Firstly, why transform at all? The foremost reason to bother with bringing a business into the digital era concerns the customer experience. Customers in every vertical you can name have more choice than ever, and expect the touchpoints when they spend money to be both smooth and responsive to their needs. Friction means churn. Any non-digital process will almost inevitably involve a degree of friction, whether that’s waiting on the phone for a customer helpline or filling out a laborious order form. There’s also the matter of employee experience. A good employee should be nearly as important to a business as a good customer. They also expect a great experience while conducting their responsibilities, or they too will leave to find that elsewhere.
All these good experiences are best supported in digital ways – by deploying the right kind of connected devices and the best in modern applications, platforms and portals. Then there’s the automation of processes, and the protection of data through security. All these things work best in conjunction with the cloud, and at the end of the day demand a meaningful commitment to a digital transformation journey of some kind.
But what about the network element? If an enterprise WAN investment has delivered the goods for 20 years without significant problems, why change that? The problem is that digital transformation calls for the kind of optimal performance, visibility and security that older network standards just can’t deliver. And where older networks are able match modern demands, they can’t do it with the required cost efficiency. The critical business applications that enable digital transformation need massive amounts of bandwidth, they need agility and flexibility, and they need wraparound security. This means that transformed networks are the very backbone that supports the requirements of digital transformation to be found across the business.
To understand the centrality of security to all this is vital. When applications and workloads lived inside a corporate data centre, protecting them was relatively simple. There was a clearly defined physical perimeter around everything. Protect that perimeter and every element within is secure. With a digitally transformed model, which means applications moved to the cloud and users connecting from everywhere, the perimeter no longer exists in a physical sense. Securing a transformed network means you need to decouple security from that network and use policies that are enforced anywhere that applications reside and everywhere that users connect. Business transformation doesn’t work without network transformation and network transformation doesn’t work without security. The three are intimately linked.
So how can all this be achieved? The Information Services Group, a leading global technology research and advisory firm, suggests that organisations wanting a secure network that is fit for modern digital purpose should consider a fully outsourced network managed services approach, based on network-as-a-service (NaaS) principles.
The ISG also celebrates emergence of cloud-native approaches in the form of communication platforms-as-a-service (CPaaS), unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) and security-as-a-service (SecaaS). It notes that virtualization in the cloud is dramatically changing enterprise network designs and purchasing models. Carriers for their part must respond to enterprise WAN needs with flexibility of their own in the form of on-demand services and managed services. They are turning to SD-WAN delivered as an easy-to-deploy service and they are building technologies like SASE into their offers.
Whatever your choice of model, now is the time to make your network digital-ready. The implications are clear: a stronger, securer digital-ready network drives growth potential, profits, customer retention and productivity.
This webcast from a recent event will help in understanding this area more fully.
These organisations participated in the event:
The following additional links will offer useful additional info on these topics:
By Guy Matthews, Editor of NetReporter