Five easy steps to increase your business’ agility

By George Chacko, Principal Systems Engineer & Lead Technical Consultant, Brocade India

The network traffic and data is increasing exponentially. 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 more efficient. .. The New IP is a modern approach to networking that emphasizes open, automated, software-defined elements to increase agility and reduce costs. And the great news is that the New IP provides a new way to architect networks that accelerate business changes and growth. New IP networks simplify and automate network processes to enable rapid service delivery and innovation, for businesses that take full advantage of mobility, cloud, social networking and big data technologies.

A CIO is responsible for the management of his or her organization’s IT systems. Managing a network is not simply a matter of servers, bandwidth and cables. 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 percent. 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 percent 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. Application acceleration delivers a faster end-user experience, which in turn drives increased service adoption; application acceleration also improves the efficiency of underlying infrastructure, facilitating maximum return on investment. Achieving the highest level of application performance requires a combination of both data center and network optimization.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 percent faster and operational expenses reduced by 50 percent. Virtual Application Delivery solutions strengthen the benefits of Fabric network automation by providing additional levels of agility, targeted acceleration and intelligent protection.

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). SDN model allows network administrators to achieve the network agility required by increasingly virtualized and dynamic applications. 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: Virtualize to increase efficiency and reduce risk

It is estimated that 80 percent 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.

Virtualized solutions such as, virtual network functions (VNF) can provide flexibility to scale at the speed of business, over traditional hardware devices as the network. Network virtualization is most effective with other forms of virtualization already in place. Network virtualization lends itself to cost savings, efficiency, security and flexibility — four key benefits for any client.

Step 4: Make the most of Big Data and Analytics

The explosion of big data presents enormous challenges, but even bigger business opportunities. Big data analytics are being used more widely every day for an even wider number of reasons. These new methods of applying analytics certainly can bring innovative improvements for business. You need to be armed with reliable insight and analytics to stay competitive, and the demand for real-time insight for compliance.

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. SDN offers improved programmability, faster service enablement and lower CAPEX/OPEX

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. By simplifying and automating network processes, the New IP encourages innovation, provides agility and accelerates the speed of service delivery. The radical transformation of closed, proprietary IP networks into open, software-driven innovation platforms really is a business game-changer. Businesses that transition to the New IP will be more competitive and more relevant to all of their user communities, and agile enough to stay that way.

Your network will play an important role in improving productivity and efficiency. By planning ahead and developing a network which is open, agile and flexible, you can give your organisation the best chance of achieving its goals in 2016.

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