Importance of Building an Automated and Secure Networking Infrastructure

Jean Turgeon, VP & Chief Technologist, Avaya
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Jean Turgeon, VP & Chief Technologist, Avaya

The Evolution of Networking Industry

A lot has changed in the Networking industry over the last five years, but the biggest change is the alignment required with the business owners, as opposed to IT just focusing on providing ‘plumbing’ that [hopefully] properly supports the business applications.

For the most part, the IT operating model has all the same components: processes, governance, services, measurements, etc. However, the business priorities alignment is now critical. Hence, governance and sourcing is no longer just up to IT, it has to include leaders of all the other business units that IT provides services to, while helping to create and deliver a differentiated experience to the customer you service.

Organizationally, the CIO has to focus on servicing the CMO, COO, CTO, and CEO more than ever. The reporting structure becomes almost irrelevant as the level of collaboration has to reach new record levels. Alignment will help the business execute at the pace required to maintain a leadership position in the market you serve.

Challenges with Agile and Outcome-based Model

In my opinion, the biggest obstacles that technologists face in working in a more agile and outcomes based model is the resistance to change. There seems to be an expectation that by simply making the network go faster, it will magically align and deliver on the business needs. The business requirements have substantially changed with the digitization of the enterprise; hence you can’t expect to apply the same old legacy model of the last 20+ years to meet the next generation of enterprise needs. You have to think differently and literally press the reset button in order to build a much more agile, secure and scalable network architecture.

  ‚ÄčThe days of static configuration for specific services are over. Services elasticity is the only game in town now   

The legacy architecture has evolved with a great deal of complexity as requirements for virtualization and security have changed. Today, applying the same type-solutions will simply hold you back, and will see most of your key resources spending their valuable time on ‘keeping the lights on’ as opposed to delivering new services your employees and customers need. Business outcomes need to be clearly understood before the technology is selected. It is foolish to expect complete solutions from a single vendor as well as hoping the same vendor can meet your needs without a deeper evaluation of the technology innovations available today.

Too many businesses only listen to and trust the same market share leaders, most–if not all–are shocked when they do take the time to evaluate other solutions and see how transformational it could be for their business. In the end, an open mind and some efforts to do research on what is available will have a very profound impact which will then allow them to deliver the desired business outcomes.

Terminating Days of Static Configuration for Specific Services

Moving from a traditional Networking service offering model requires a major mindset shift in Networking; in fact, it’s a must. First, you have to come to realize and understand the limitations of the legacy networking architecture. It was not built with a “services model” in mind. It became a complex nodal architecture that required a sophisticated skill set to enable services end to end. Take note, it is not just about the data center; services aren’t consumed in the data center. Hence, regardless of the cloud deployment model you choose, you need to think of how you can extend these services to your customers, which for the most part now expect same services in a mobile environment.

The days of static configuration for specific services are over. Services elasticity is the only game in town now. It’s similar to roaming with your cell phone; you don’t call your service provider to let them know you just landed in a new country, you simply turn your cell phone on and you get service. The next generation network architecture must also be able to deliver this. This means fully automated provisioning and services elasticity, regardless of where you are and what you use to access the applications/ services you need. Is this possible today? Absolutely it is, but you need an end to end automated networking architecture; you need to transition away from a nodal configuration model which has a high degree of complexity, and move to a simplified architecture model that only requires Point of Services (PoS) provisioning touch points; then your network architecture will truly behave and deliver services securely and rapidly.

Skills Requisite in the New Networking Landscape

To be successful in the new Networking landscape, of course leaders need to have a good technological understanding of networking, and more so now, around Software Defined Networking (SDN) or SD-x (Software Defined everything), that’s in addition to cyber security, hyper-convergence and automation. These are key fundamentals to have, but now technology leaders also need to spend a lot more time with business leaders to have an in depth understanding of their business challenges, business priorities, their competitive landscape and how IT can help provide differentiated services to its customers. It is no longer sufficient to only focus on technology, today’s leaders need to first start at the business level, and then transform IT to align with the desired business outcomes. This will require time spent evaluating new innovations and establishing architecture combined with various best of breed technology solutions. With the right foundation and new mindset, technology leaders can have a profound impact on the speed at which business transformation can actually be completed.

Future Technology Innovation

We all see what’s going on with Internet of Things (IoT), and what makes this so exciting is that we can now start using technology innovations together to transform business and deliver solutions to change people’s lives. Think of how wearables and autonomous vehicles can change the life of someone visually impaired. Imagine that individual walking down the street and having a live description of their surroundings provided through analytics delivered by sensors in their shoes, in unison with a camera embedded in their clothes, tied to city video surveillance system, in addition to Google maps! Add to this the ability for that individual to get into a self-driving car and be driven safely to their destination after simply instructing the car to bring them to a specific address. We are just at the beginning of this new transformation era.

Furthermore, the incredible advancements being made in health and remote patient monitoring, artificial intelligence, robotics, automotive, energy, and so much more, are another area of technology to get excited about. Automation sophistication will reach new levels, but it’s important to not lose sight of the importance of building an automated and secure networking infrastructure; combine this with business process workflow automation, while leveraging advanced analytics and your imagination is the limit. It is indeed exciting times we are going through, don’t fall asleep too long, the world is transforming at an amazing pace!

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