Any digital transformation project, if managed correctly, should be an enterprise-wide endeavor, touching every department and process. Although the term has existed for years, what is meant by digital transformation today is a shift away from the hardwired and hardware-driven infrastructure and towards the software-defined networks and cloud tech that enable businesses to adapt and scale at an increasingly rapid pace.
Managing this transformation, however, is a remarkably complex process. There are so many factors to consider, such as the emergent technologies such as IoT, new operations methodologies like NetOps and DevOps, virtualization, and the growth in microservices and edge computing. Despite the complexity they inevitably introduce, these new technologies and methodologies are driving the evolution of the network, and aiding businesses in freeing themselves from the yoke of legacy systems still being utilized across the world.
How can enterprise DDI help?
Whether a business has grown through mergers and acquisitions or simply market dominance, its IT team must continue to add new IP addresses to their network in step with business expansion. IP addresses are the most essential piece of the network for optimal functionality, and with trillions of new IP addresses becoming available under the IPv6 protocol, managing this increase in IP address assignments can be an incredibly complex, daunting task.
Many organizations have already learned the hard way that too much complexity impedes business growth. Modern enterprises require agile, simple, and sustainable solutions to their network management to maintain ROIs at acceptable levels.
A DDI solution manages DNS, DHCP and IP addresses, and can be an incredibly useful tool for a large, or growing enterprise. Although the quality of equipment and technology a business uses certainly enables network capability and capacity, ultimately it is the DDI methodology that unlocks (or potentially bottlenecks) both network efficiency and security.
As such, it is essential for DDI to play a central role in any enterprise’s digital transformation road map. The choice of a DDI solution is not one to be made lightly, as the consequences of making the right (or wrong) choice will likely only be felt years later, as the number of assigned addresses grows over time. The right DDI solution, however, can offer compounding cost savings and turn a struggling network into a future-proofed infrastructure, no matter what technologies are thrown at it.
Whether through increasing network efficiency, bolstering network security, or establishing long-term sustainability in its operations, a well-chosen DDI should impact more than just the core DNS, DHCP, and IPAM it is specifically designed to handle. If a business invests in a scalable, resilient DDI solution, it can expect to see a similarly robust ROI.
Choosing enterprise DDI
Picking the right DDI is an important decision, then. Particularly as the consequences of the wrong choice may not be immediately apparent. Businesses should treat DDI selection the same way they treat many other important business decisions; analytically. It is important to assess what they already have, model where they need to be, and fill in what is needed to get there. In this particular case, this translates into taking stock of what type of infrastructure the business already employs, and evaluate how well, or not, the proposed solution integrates with these existing resources and whatever new solutions are earmarked on the digital transformation roadmap.
It is important to always keep in mind the kind of problems an organization is trying to solve, and the cost of the solution to those issues. Rip-and-replace hardware infrastructure removes any remaining value in the initial investment that a company may not have been aware of. Migration is an expensive endeavor, and that cost may well be reduced (or even removed) with the right DDI solution. Again, always consider the future. Digital transformation is not a one and done project, and a business will have to account for how the infrastructure will hold up when the business processes move to (or from) the cloud, and how well it will scale when the business has grown in size.
Best-of-breed DDI enterprise solutions should have an open, extendible architecture. This can help deliver rapid integration with private and hybrid clouds, virtualization, bring your own technology (BYOT), IoT and any other emergent technologies or trends. This is important, as CEOs, CTOs and boards need to be certain that their business model is ready for the rapid pace of change. Having the right DDI enterprise solution should form a key part of enabling business expansion and technology integration.
Choosing the right functionality
More specifically, there are many other features and functions that should factor into the DDI selection process.
An Application Programming Interface (API)-first architecture brings a number of benefits to businesses when attempting to manage their networks. Firstly, it speeds up development processes, particularly when it comes to creating and managing networks, managing IP addresses and assigning them to new devices as well as creating DNS zones.
With a unified, user-friendly API, both the DevOps and NetOps teams should more easily be able to incorporate DDI services into their continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, whilst rapidly prototyping and deploying applications.
Automation capabilities are also a safe bet for choosing a DDI. As with automation in most technology fields, automated network management eliminates manual human errors, reduces risk, saving time for IT teams and money for the business in the process. What’s also important is that DevOps and NetOps automation remains stable even if the underlying service changes, for example if the DNS moves from on-premises to the cloud, or between cloud providers.
Former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis, famously described sunlight as being the best disinfectant. Whilst Brandeis was discussing financial and governmental transparency, the same applies to network security: visibility is a first and necessary step towards better security. With this in mind, real-time monitoring of all systems through a single-pane view is a no-brainer. It allows for deeper security and enables businesses to avoid expensive downtime. Embedded security features with granular access controls and activity logging can keep the network safe as issues can be spotted and mitigated at pace.
Ultimately, the end goal of DDI is to reduce the inevitable complexity that arises across the network as new technologies and users are integrated into it. A robust DDI solution should enable service discovery and connectivity between cloud-based applications, on-premises applications and microservices to simplify day-to-day workflows, allowing for more complexity within the network that doesn’t, however, bring additional complexity to business processes.
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Magnus Bjornsson, CEO, Men&Mice