Is your business’ network ready?

Every day 500 million tweets, 3.5 billion Google searches and 205 billion emails cross networks around the world, and a significant proportion of this traffic travels across business infrastructure - putting growing pressure on corporate networks.

The current rate of network traffic and data growth is not slowing down any time soon. At the same time the ability of businesses to respond quickly and efficiently, to be able to adapt and embrace change to meet new network demands and challenges is increasingly vital.

This has created the need for a new kind of network that is open, software-enabled and tailored. This new approach to networks is the New IP. The New IP creates networks that are smarter, more agile and more responsive than legacy infrastructures; giving users and IT teams the resilience and flexibility they need to respond faster, adapt more easily and cope with the growing volumes of digital information.

As the New Year fast approaches, it’s an opportunity for CIOs to reflect and plan their response to the challenges their organisations face in the next 12 months and beyond. Here are five simple steps to increase your business’ agility in the year ahead:

Step 1: Audit your network

It might sound obvious, but an audit is the best place to start. IDC recently projected that the majority of businesses underestimate how many devices they have in their data centre by up 50 per cent.

Don’t be fooled - take time to look at what you already have and what you are going to need moving into 2016. This way you can ensure that your network will mirror the elasticity of your business strategy.

Step 2: Focus on application acceleration and cloud connectivity

Delivering applications is a top priority. In fact, almost two thirds of CIOs rate providing fast deployment of new applications as an ‘extreme’ or ‘significant’ concern, and 65 per cent say the same about delivering fast access to applications from multiple devices.

Applications connect your workplace to the digital environment and allow your business to access, engage and understand data and information. An inability to access applications can and will affect productivity and ultimately, your bottom line.

To overcome the threat, you need a highly automated, operationally-aligned infrastructure that delivers application acceleration and secure cloud connectivity, while eliminating network downtime. By adopting a Fabric network, applications can be deployed up to 90 per cent faster and operational expenses reduced by 50 per cent. Virtual Application Delivery solutions strengthen the benefits of Fabric network automation by providing additional levels of agility, targeted acceleration and intelligent protection.

As your colleagues are not sat next to the servers which host their applications, extending network automation and intelligence across the campus local area network (LAN) is the final step in delivering application acceleration and optimising investments into cloud services and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Solutions that support software-defined networking and operate on Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) create an agile, adaptable user infrastructure. This can quickly adopt and support increased machine-to-machine traffic, as the Internet-of-Things becomes ever more pervasive, while also ensuring that application access and performance remains unaffected.

Step 3: Virtualise to increase efficiency and reduce risk

It is estimated that 80 per cent of IT budgets are spent servicing technology which was purchased around ten years ago. Imagine what you could do if you could refocus your budget onto innovation and create a services-orientated and software-enabled IT environment, to keep up with the trends of 2016.

Virtualised solutions such as, virtual network functions (VNF) can provide flexibility to scale at the speed of business, over traditional hardware devices as the network. And the convergence of storage and data networks can reduce cost and risks, whilst retaining the technical benefits of both network virtual technologies.

Step 4: Make the most of Big Data and Analytics

The explosion of big data presents enormous challenges, but even bigger business opportunities. You need to be armed with reliable insight and analytics to stay competitive, and the demand for real-time insight for compliance and supply chain management is only increasing.

Software-Defined networks (SDN) and advanced network analytics will support your businesses investments in big data analysis platforms, while maximising the value of your IT investments. It’s a win-win.

Deciding right now what investments you’ll need to make in three to five years’ to deliver the right IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) model is a long bet. For many, the ultimate goal is to support analytics by providing an internal ITaaS model.

Step 5: Lead through constant innovation adoption with elastic IT services delivery

Simply adding more of the same devices to your network is not the answer; nor is sticking with a rigid, physical, legacy approach to design while trying to deploy new flexible, application-centric technologies. Opt for a solution which is designed on open standards and software that will keep your network agile for tomorrow, as well as improve performance and efficiency for today.

Whether your business wants to improve productivity and efficiency internally, to expand, to improve supply chain management, or to deliver new differentiated services externally, the chances are your network will play a major role in making that possible.

By planning ahead and developing a long-term network strategy, you can give your organisation the best chance of achieving its goals in 2016.

Joy Gardham, Regional Director of Europe, Middle East and Africa West at Brocade

Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens