Forty seven percent of CEOs say they are being “challenged” by their board of directors to show progress in shifting toward a digital business model according to the Gartner 2018 CIO Agenda Industry Insights Report. By improving IT operations, organizations can progress and even accelerate their digital transformation initiatives efficiently and successfully. The biggest barrier to success is that IT currently spends around 78 percent of their budget and 80 percent of their time just maintaining IT operations, leaving little time and resource left for innovation according to ZK Research*.
Do you cut the operations budget or invest more in transforming operations?
The Cisco IT Operations Readiness Index 2018 predicted a dramatic change in IT operations as CIOs embrace analytics and automation. The study reported that 88 percent of respondents identify investing in IT operations as key to driving preemptive practices and enhancing customer experience.
What does this have to do with the wide area network?
According to the IT Operations Readiness Index, 73 percent of respondents will collect WAN operational or performance data and 70 percent will analyze WAN data and leverage the results to further automate network operations. However, security is the most data-driven infrastructure today compared to other IT infrastructure functions (i.e. IoT, IP telephony, network infrastructure, data center infrastructure, WAN connectivity, etc.). The big questions are:
- How do you collect operations data and what data should you collect?
- How do you analyze it?
- How do you then automate IT operations based on the results?
By no means, is this a simple task. IT departments use a combination of data collected internally and by outside vendors to aggregate information used to transform operations and make better business decisions.
In a recent survey by Frost & Sullivan, 94 percent of respondents indicated they will deploy a Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) in the next 24 months. SD-WAN addresses the gap that router-centric WAN architectures were not designed to fill. A business-driven SD-WAN, designed from the ground up to support a cloud-first business model, provides significantly more network and application performance visibility, significantly assisting enterprises to realize the transformational promise of a digital business model. In fact, Gartner indicates that 90 percent of WAN edge decisions will be based on SD-WAN by 2023.
How an SD-WAN can improve IT operations leading to successful digital transformation
All SD-WAN solutions are not created alike. One of the key components that organizations need to consider and evaluate is having complete observability across the network and applications through a single pane of glass. Without visibility, IT risks running inefficient operations that will stifle digital transformation initiatives. This real-time visibility must provide:
- Operational metrics enabling IT/CIO’s to shift from a reactive toward a predictive practice
- A centralized dashboard that allows IT to monitor, in real-time, all aspects of network operations – a dashboard that has flexible knobs to adjust and collect metrics from all WAN edge appliances to accelerate problem resolution
The Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect™ SD-WAN edge platform provides granular visibility into network and application performance. The EdgeConnect platform ensures the highest quality of experience for both end users and IT. End users enjoy always-consistent, always-available application performance including the highest quality of voice and video, even over broadband. Utilizing the Unity Orchestrator™ comprehensive management dashboard as shown below, IT gains complete observability into the performance attributes of the network and applications in real-time. Customizable widgets provide a wealth of operational data including a health heatmap for every SD-WAN appliance deployed, flow counts, active tunnels, logical topologies, top talkers, alarms, bandwidth consumed by each application and location, application latency and jitter and much more. Furthermore, the platform maintains a week’s worth of data with context allowing IT to playback and see what has transpired at a specific time and location, analogous to a DVR.
By providing complete observability of the entire WAN, IT spends less time troubleshooting network and application bottlenecks and fielding support/help desk calls day and night, and more time focused on strategic business initiatives.
This solution brief, “Simplify SD-WAN Operations with Greater Visibility”, provides additional detail on the capabilities offered in the business-driven EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform that enables businesses to accelerate their shift toward a digital business model.
* ZK Research quote from Cisco IT Operations Readiness Index 2018