Oct 10, 2016
Businesses spend billions of dollars annually on initiatives to make workers more productive. In fact, ZK Research found that in 2015, organizations spent in aggregate over $12 billion on technology to increase the agility of their organization. The new initiatives are great but what about existing applications? Another interesting data point from ZK Research is that workers claim to be 14% less productive because of poor or unavailable application performance. It’s certainly important to fund digital initiatives but it’s critical to understand that by making the applications that workers are already using run optimally, this itself could net out a double-digit productivity improvement. My advice to CIOs is to ensure that existing applications are being delivered optimally before embarking on new initiatives.
Most network management solutions do an excellent job of monitoring network flows, helping IT understand where congestion points are and which applications are underperforming. While I’m a firm believer that visibility is critical to performance management and security, it doesn’t fully solve the problem. I recently authored a post that discusses the shift from managing performance versus managing faults —the idea is: rather than just trying to “see” what’s happening on the network, the goal should be to use the network to control applications.
This was difficult, if not impossible to do with traditional networks. First, the instrumentation available to control applications was limited. Second, the few tools that did exist needed to be configured one-box-at-a-time through a cryptic command line interface. Luckily, SD-WANs can address application control issues, as these solutions not only typically offer a rich application-visibility dashboard to see what’s going on, but also the necessary knobs and levers required to control your applications.
SD-WANs are loaded with features that enable businesses to control applications. A few of the key ones are:
I’m a firm believer that application visibility is critical to the success of companies today, as it’s impossible to manage and secure what one can’t see. However, network operations teams should strive to take the next step — implementing an SD-WAN to enable the features that can help control applications. It’s the combination of visibility and control that will make business applications perform optimally.
Thinking years out, an SD-WAN would incorporate Machine Learning (ML) technology and be able to learn and adapt as the environment changes. When an upgrade is needed, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) agent would inform the service provider and fully automate this process. However, we are years away from that. The first step down this path is getting a handle on visibility and control.