One of the biggest challenges decision-makers face today is ensuring their networks are optimised to meet the demands of the digital-first business environment. With so much pressure to embrace the cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence, and others, companies can easily lose sight of putting a solid foundation in place to aid in this transition.
Whether you call it digital transformation, hyper-connectedness, or even the Fourth Industrial Revolution, all these have the network as its core. And if a company is still approaching its design, implementation, and management as it did in the 90s, 2000s, or even in the previous decade, they will lose that vital competitive edge.
A modern business environment requires the flexibility an optimised network infrastructure can provide. This needs to recognise everything from security and access rights to IT service management and storage performance to name just a few.
Beyond the basics
“It is no longer good enough just to have a network in place that can deal with the essentials of doing business. Instead, management must look at ways to take what they have put in place and transition it to become more digital-friendly and open to faster innovation. By making the network more agile, things such as software-defined networking and hybrid or multi-cloud environments become easier to do,” says James Ndegwa, business and architecture lead manager at Comstor Africa.
Once a network becomes digital-ready, organisations can perform better across all relevant business metrics. Even if it is something as simplistic as delivering a collaborative working environment to employees working away from the office. Those businesses who are progressing on this network optimisation journey are the ones who can deploy more digital capabilities quicker than those still stuck doing the basics of network management.
“A big shift today is the focus on an open standards approach. Unlike the proprietary-driven way of the past, this empowers the company to move away from being locked-in to one specific vendor and can select the best solutions for the specific functions required. The focus really is about picking the right tools to solve the toughest IT management problems today” adds Ndegwa.
The building blocks of this begin with auditing and analysing what is currently in place and working with a trusted partner to identify the areas that require immediate attention. Furthermore, future-proofing the network environment is crucial if a company is to remain agile and competitive as more sophisticated technologies become available.
Aspects such as bandwidth and traffic patterns, database performance, virtualisation, security and compliance, and change management form an integral component to evolving networks that have been fit-to-purpose into something else entirely.
“As more multinational data centres arrive in South Africa, companies are aware that they need to think differently about what worked well for them in the past. Things are happening faster than ever. If the network does not cater for this explosion in innovation, management must overhaul the vital components as a matter of urgency.
“But with this comes new opportunities to innovate from a business perspective.
“The key is to start making the move sooner rather than later. Embrace the new network environment, work with a partner who understands the business, and innovate quickly to drive the potential available in a digital world,” concludes Ndegwa.