As new technologies like software defined networking, SD-WAN, cloud computing and the Internet of Things continue to grow in maturity and adoption, organizations are faced with transforming their networks to keep up with the changes.
Many of these technologies involve using software to automate management of the network or to virtualize the network. Recent research from IDC suggests revenues from networking and communications software will grow from a $6 billion market in 2017 to a $12 billion by 2021.
Experts who advise clients on network transformation strategies have a series of tips of how organizations should think about pursuing such projects. Regardless of which technology is being implemented, these tips cover the basics of who needs to be involved, how the project should be thought about and what needs to happen for it to be successful.
Put together a team
For a project to really get going and ultimately be successful, dedicated people are needed. This starts at the top with executive-level support for embracing new technologies and embarking on a network and/or digital transformation project. Beyond that though, IDC analyst Rohit Mehra recommends creating a small team to lead the project. The team is responsible for defining desired outcomes, making a plan for how to achieve them and being held accountable for timelines and completeness.
“It can be helpful to think about digesting the project in bite-size chunks,” says Mehra. “Don’t think too broadly. Narrow it down to specify what your virtual network will help you achieve and what benefits will come from it. Then, pull stakeholders from those teams to execute the vision.”
Members of the team could include network administrators, server and storage admins, application development engineers and security specialists. It’s important to have representation on the team of operators who will be implementing the changes, and end users who will benefit from it.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Forrester analyst Andre Kindness recommends that users should think about how new technology projects can be bolted on to existing systems instead of needing to be started from scratch. “Build atop – not beside – existing infrastructure that works,” Kindness says.
Executing a virtual networking strategy does not require a whole new set of technology, processes and job roles. In many cases, software can be put in place to help automate manual tasks. In other cases, new technologies like cloud computing can be used for individual use cases and certain classes of applications. Embracing these technology changes don’t have to be a complete lift and shift. A gradual, incremental change that uses existing resources to build future platforms is sometimes best.
Plan for the future
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