Network complexity holds back digital transformation

Network professionals are spending too much time troubleshooting today’s multi-vendor, multi-cloud network environments, says a new report. Here’s how next-gen IT networks like SD-WAN could help pave the way for DX.

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Organizations are under pressure to pursue digital transformation, and network professionals are under pressure to get those initiatives off the ground — and then prove the ROI.

But one of the biggest challenges that network professionals are facing in 2019 is finding time to work on DX projects that are more strategic to the business.

As organizations embrace transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence, they also face more complex networking requirements, especially in a hybrid world. So while you’re trying to get ahead with those DX initiatives, you’re stuck troubleshooting.

Network performance challenges

A new report from Sirkin Research finds that network professionals are “challenged to find time to work on strategic business initiatives because they are mired in the time-consuming task of troubleshooting issues across the entire network.”

The problem? It comes down to the complexities of managing today’s multi-vendor, multi-cloud, multi-fabric network environments, according to 2019 Top Network Performance Challenges.

Forty-three per cent of respondents in the survey said finding time to work on strategic business initiatives this year will be a challenge or major challenge. Considering the pressing nature of digital transformation — keep up or get left behind — this poses a problem.

Instead of furthering DX, they’re mired in network troubleshooting tasks. Their biggest challenges are (not surprisingly) with the wireless network, cloud computing and branch offices/remote sites.

The report also found that:

  • 38% cannot proactively identify network performance issues
  • 35% have poor visibility into performance across all fabrics of the network
  • 35% have poor end-to-end performance monitoring across network devices

Solving the complexity issue

But it’s not all doom and gloom. This complexity is driving the development of better network performance management and diagnostics (NPMD) tools to support today’s complex, heterogeneous network environments.

It’s also driving a move toward next-generation networks, such as software-defined wide-area networks. With SD-WAN, for example, you can route traffic according to centrally managed rules, regardless of entry and exit points.

This is particularly useful if you have a lot of business apps running in the cloud or if you’re connecting multiple branch offices. Plus, you can modify those centrally managed rules as needed, providing increased network responsiveness and more flexibility to the business.

While the survey found that network professionals are also challenged with SD-WAN, this technology could also be part of the solution.

Building a foundation for DX

“Ultimately, SD-WAN will make it easier for machine intelligence to take a hand in network management, further lowering bandwidth expenses and improving security,” writes Anand Oswal, senior VP of engineering for Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business, in a blog for Cisco.

And while we’ve been hearing the praises of SD-WAN for a few years now, Oswal says “in 2019 it will be a major driver in how networks are built and re-built.”

Cisco predicts that SD-WAN network traffic will grow by 500 per cent in the coming year, and more than half of businesses who don’t currently use SD-WAN are going to make plans for its adoption.

Businesses want digital transformation. But one thing is certain: without the infrastructure to support DX, network pros will spend more time troubleshooting and less time on strategic business initiatives.

Learn more about Allstream’s SD-WAN solution.

Image: akindo/iStock

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