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If you’re going digital, do it your way – but do it right

We have all seen it happen; a company rolls out a new ecommerce platform, or online ‘always-available’ customer services, or deploys new security as proof that they are taking the safety of customer data seriously after the last breach.

All seems wonderful until… the system fails. Customers take to social media to vent frustration, regulators circle, fines accrue.

The executive management convene to pore over what went wrong. ‘We deployed the latest applications’, they say. ‘We invested in more servers. We ensured everyone did the training. We issued the press release’. However, the one thing they didn’t ask at the critical moment before making any transformation or investment was ‘can our network handle it’?

Why is it that we accept that a tree with poor roots will come crashing down, or a house with weak foundations will collapse, but we fail to apply the same basic philosophy to IT? Because it seems hard, complicated, costly and risky. The reality is as the nexus of forces takes hold it will be harder to compete, more complicated to address, more costly and risky not to address the issues with the foundation to every enterprise – its network.

As I noted at Gartner’s Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit in London, true digital transformation that drives business success can never be based on the ‘new shiny solution’ or a skin-deep revamp. It is not something that should be attempted without starting with a serious review of the network you'll need; and it is not something that should be attempted all at once. Today’s new shiny will inevitably be tomorrows obsolete. Change, flexibility and agility are all in the new digital environment.

To help customers break down this often incomprehensible and complex challenge Brocade have developed a 5-step model that helps business align IT transformation to business strategy, ensuring a stable transition but also allowing for adaptation as the speed of change continues to accelerate.

If your business is transforming or soon will be, you first need to understand how to transform your network. Hitting that transformation tipping point and realising your network can't support your needs - and that previous approaches to network design no longer hold true - is not a disaster, it's just the start of a new IT evolution.

Next, develop an Automated Network with fabrics and Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) to ensure application and cloud access and availability, address security, reduce risk and resource costs, and provide the platform you need that will support future plans – whatever they may be.

The third step is to develop a more Agile Infrastructure. By introducing virtualised functionality you create agility while slashing costs. With a move towards IP storage networks, you pave the way for data analytics and personalised services without a massive increase in complexity or cost.

Then you are well positioned to successfully create Intelligent Services at step four - internal and external services that will provide the benefits your customers want, differentiating you from the competition. Software-defined networks will ensure these services remain robust yet elastic.

Finally, evolve towards step five, where IT is a service that can predict the business need and market evolution, and respond accordingly with ease.

No-one knows what the future will hold, what new digital solutions may turn the world on its head again. But introducing networking solutions that are open, adaptable, and support fast adoption and development of IT innovation means staying on the right side of the fine line between business success and failure.

Marcus Jewell, Vice President , EMEA, Brocade

Image source: Shutterstock/Nomad_Soul