By Adi Mukadam

Digital transformations have been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, the role of the CIO has become hyperactive with no signs of slowing down. But this is not the first time that IT has been called upon to exceed expectations. It’s a bit of a cycle. When a crisis strikes, when technology adoption changes, when customer needs change, the CIO has always been asked to step in and save the day. And this time it’s no different – well, there is a difference. This time around, CIOs need to do more without increasing resources, or even fewer resources. They must implement new IT strategies, develop better customer experiences, deliver more IT innovation, all with a growing skills gap, tighter deadlines, tight budgets AND a distributed workforce.

That’s what I like to call, the CIO conundrum: How can you do everything you expect from your growing role? From creating new products to generating new revenue streams, optimizing business processes, managing security and refining business strategy. How to do more with less?

To meet growing business expectations, IT leadership needs to make better use of cutting-edge technologies to improve efficiency, automate, and scale, freeing up time and resources to focus on business results. The first step to achieving this nirvana is network modernization – an important foundational element in driving successful cloud and digital initiatives.

What is special about a modern network?

Legacy networks responded to centralized applications and predictable demands, operating on a more defined and forgotten principle. Today, with the emergence of digital, networks bear many critical dates that are exploited for business intelligence, optimization and innovation. Software-Defined Networking, or SDN, allows the network to be more flexible, so that it can respond quickly to changing business needs and proactively detect network behavior to automatically adjust resources. network and security accordingly.

A transition to SDN is an important part of modernizing a CIO’s network and overall IT strategy – it’s the key to helping IT managers adapt to changing business needs. Here’s why:

  • Efficiency – SDN enables businesses to operate their networks more efficiently, integrating cloud, IoT, remote access, and other technologies that increase business agility. SDN can also eliminate the need for huge hardware purchases, thereby reducing costs.
  • Visibility and flexibility – SDN can replace traditional hardware equipment, giving IT teams more flexibility, visibility and control over their networks. By decoupling software from network hardware, SDN allows network administrators to route traffic through software controls. This gives network administrators the ability to manage their networks through the proverbial single pane of glass instead of configuring each network device separately.

SDN is also an important part of a company’s cloud migration. The cloud offers agility, flexibility and scalability, but the cloud is an operating model in terms of network management. It is the way, not the destination. In other words, network modernization can make or break your migration to the cloud.

  • Transfer resources – SDN enables rapid provisioning of network resources as capacity demands change, including edge computing, IoT, and remote access needs, for example. IoT requires a lot of data to be transmitted over the corporate network, and SDN helps network teams manage this traffic more easily. Deep visibility helps network managers understand the behavior of any new application on the network and ensures that existing applications are not affected.
  • Security – Security is a priority for CIOs today. In particular, securing the branch or the periphery as the consumption of applications changes. They are looking to gain more visibility into their network, mitigate risk, and analyze the growing amount of incoming threat intelligence.

A network modernization vision demands an architecture that combines software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and high-performance security in a mission-critical edge-to-cloud service that does not require additional hardware cost and complexity. This new approach will not only satisfy the ‘generation WFH’ with desktop resiliency and security, but will also radically simplify WAN deployment, enable a single point for centralized network management and provide the right provision of bandwidth for every user, device and application. This suite of services now has a name – Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), network and network security functions consumed as a service.

New distributed networks, with network-connected devices spread over many locations, can increase an organization’s attack surface, but SDN can help correlate data faster and manage the environment, providing administrators network additional tools to combat security threats.

Don’t set it and forget it

While SDN can bring several benefits to companies that adopt it, I see that some IT teams are still looking to embrace new technology for the sake of the brilliant new technology itself. CIOs and IT decision-makers should first consider the business challenges they want to solve or the business opportunities they want to take advantage of. In some cases, there is a gap between the CIO’s focus on business needs and the IT team’s focus on leveraging the latest technology combined with the pressure to keep the lights on. Too often I see companies thinking about technology without considering the business case.

Adopting SDN can be complicated. It’s not just about lifting and moving SDN into current traffic flows. Implementing SDN is less often a plug and play case and more often a plug and beg situation. There are many SDN providers in the market and the technology is not always interoperable between providers. Additionally, most organizations don’t have the resources or the time to test and select the best solution for them.

An experienced managed services partner can assess a company’s network environment, recommend the right SDN tools and deployment, help manage complex connectivity needs, and take some of the pressure off the internal network team. But one size does not fit all. The right partner can offer businesses greater network flexibility and enable true network modernization, as well as a smoother path to successful digital transformation.

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