We are headed for a future in which everything will be connected to the cloud – not just traditional servers and clients, but any kind of industrial plant, building, vehicle, machinery, and device. Global always-on networking will fundamentally transform all industries. To keep up with the upcoming changes and market requirements there are three topics every CIO, Head of IT, or Network Manager should have on their agenda:
- The network is the future business platform. Within the next five to ten years, business will be transformed by digital technology, on a much larger scale than seemingly possible at first glance. Everything will be part of a globally-interconnected IT infrastructure, the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT provides a flood of sensory data to big data analytics and allows for real-time (or near real-time) interactivity. Whatever industry, the IT network will become the foundation of every business. For example, car manufacturers are preparing for a future when cars are not simply hardware that takes us from A to B, but interconnected software platforms that provide an individualized user experience to drivers. Forklift manufacturers will provide forklifts as a service with cloud-based management and fault monitoring. The list goes on and on.
- The network is software-defined. It is a natural mistake to think of the global networking infrastructure as just a gigantic accumulation of hardware: copper wires, fiber cables, switches, and routers. But this hardware is increasingly becoming software-defined. Software-defined networking means that data paths are no longer pre-defined connections; instead, software dynamically determines these data paths, making the network more agile. For example, branch offices used to be connected to headquarters via leased lines, complemented by some narrowband method of emergency failover. In contrast, the modern branch office communicates via multiple IP connections. A device at the branch office site uses software algorithms to decide which connection(s) to use. This way, data paths can be diversified based on economic parameters or technical necessities, such as balancing traffic loads between multiple lines. This makes the network much more powerful and cost-efficient. Ideally the network is part of a trusted security architecture enabling user-centric policies to intelligently control and secure the different types of apps, the devices and the end-to-end networks framework.
- Network performance does not equal business performance. With all this talk about the importance of the network and new ways to improve its performance, it seems logical to assume: the faster my network, the more efficient my business processes. Unfortunately, this is not quite right. The network is simply the vehicle for data transportation between applications. It is the applications that contain the business workflows, and sometimes whole business processes. Therefore, it is critical for a successful digital transformation to have full control of how applications are delivered. For this purpose, modern enterprises deploy so-called ‘application delivery controllers’. These allow granular management of application availability and behavior as well as application security and secure digital perimeter security policy enforcement.
Data is the new currency, making the unhindered flow of data an essential prerequisite in the modern enterprise. In a time of ubiquitous cloud services, global interconnectivity due to the rise of the Internet of Things, and digital transformation rapidly progressing across all industries, network infrastructure provides the very foundation of today’s – and, what’s more, future – business operation. In this scenario, solid network connectivity is the bare necessity for business. Software-defined networking is needed to make this infrastructure agile enough to swiftly adapt to changing business needs. And ADCs help to bridge the gap between the network, security, and business applications. This way, intelligent networks provide the groundwork for a successful digital transformation.