By Magnus Bjornsson, CEO of Men&Mice
For any network manager interested in the effortless transfer of data, seamless migration between platforms and uninterrupted service as they onboard a recent company acquisition, the answer is sustainable networking.
Sustainability has been made more important as an exponential rise in global connectivity continues to add complexity to enterprise network environments. As this digitalisation progresses, company network environments must be developed to take advantage of new technologies and keep pace with their competitors.
Recent trends that have added complexity include the proliferation of edge computing and IoT, multi-cloud uptake, and – accelerated by COVID – the spread of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) as a widespread working practice. Supporting these technologies requires investment in and the evolution of the corporate network, but to ensure ROI and to optimise network efficiency, evolving the network within a sustainability framework is key.
This digital transformation starts with the network, and while rapid innovation, and the opportunities it brings, may look great on paper for IT leadership, many businesses find themselves in impossible binds and are forced to relinquish control during their digital transformation. Many organisations operate with a more traditional IT infrastructure, representing a significant investment, making it more challenging to catch up to modern technologies.
Indeed, according to a survey conducted by IBM on 380 CIOs and CTOs of medium to large organisations in the US and UK, 24% of companies have just begun their IT transformation journey and are not yet ready for future IT needs. 33% of the surveyed IT leaders reported that they are in the middle of the IT transformation journey.
What does it mean when the concept of sustainability is applied to the enterprise computer network? One definition could be creating an infrastructure that is flexible enough to tackle unknown future changes. Simply put, sustainable networking is networking at its most sensible and pragmatic in the opportunities it affords to enterprises.
As cloud computing rapidly transforms the way companies operate, sustainability can be best defined through the essential appeal of an orchestrator solution in which businesses can use a networking tool without ripping out their own hardware or old processes.
After all, there can be valid needs to upgrade – for example, company hardware simply gives out, or security lapses require updates to tech. Sometimes the benefit of investing in the new justifies the cost. However, sometimes, it’s just an arbitrary cycle set by a technology vendor, such as in the case of decommissioning perfectly serviceable pieces of hardware because the appliance vendor said so.
Sustainability, at its essence, is the practice of avoiding this arbitrary cycle through the use of employing an overlay solution. To be an overlay solution means that the technology is layered on top of the network, which forestalls the need for an expensive rip and replace process when it comes to embarking on digital transformation.
Why it matters
Networking technology that isn’t made to be sustainable, at best becomes wasted resources. At worst, it becomes a liability, vulnerability, or actively damaging impact.
Sustainable technology and sustainable networking create a value that compounds with time. Almost as if sustainability was following Newton’s first law, staying in motion while the effort needed to counter the unbalanced forces of shifting business priorities is lower than reinventing the proverbial wheel every time a company change vendors.
This being the case, network sustainability ensures ROI going forward, as the network is future-proofed, and enterprises can avoid vendor lock-in.
To achieve sustainable networks, it is vital enterprises make use of highly scalable and programmable solutions that can be automated to eliminate human error and scale to the rates of digital transformation. Future-proof networks must increasingly rely on agile software-defined or virtualised network elements managed through a decoupled solution, so data and service layer can be freely moved, replaced, adjusted, and expanded to dynamically re-engineer the architecture without lengthy network outages. Sustainable networks utilise self-provisioning and intelligently self-healing services.
In short, future-proof networks require a comprehensive, unified tool that provides visibility and proactive monitoring for the entire infrastructure, regardless of its scale, location, or components. Sustainability needs clear insights into network operations to be able to optimise resources as needed.
Choosing the right solution
At the end of the day, creating a sustainable network relies on choosing a network management solution that operates inside this future-proofed framework. This is best achieved for enterprises through a management solution for large-scale, highly heterogeneous core network services. Crucially, it should bring automation to the IP address management space, and be transformation-ready and flexible to support on-premise, cloud, or edge services on a wide range of platforms.
As companies embark on their digital transformations – and look to employ the latest technologies and cloud strategies – making the right decision towards sustainability now will prevent untold costs down the line.