Digital transformation is well underway at most organizations, but is IT driving the change or being driven by change? Without access to the expertise and insights you need to manage fast-evolving hardware and software infrastructure as efficiently as possible, it can be an uphill battle to keep the lights on – even before you embark on new initiatives.

According to recent NTT research for our 2022–23 Global Network Report, 96% of CIOs are struggling to keep pace with business demand for increased speed and innovation, citing technical debt and a lack of expertise, while 94% say business demand for increased speed, agility and innovation is driving the need for new operating models.

From hub-and-spoke to hybrid and bespoke

Network infrastructure used to be mostly on-premises and hardware-centric. Typically, core data centers and applications were linked to branches, warehouses, logistics operations and more, creating the hub-and-spoke model.

This model worked well when most employees worked from the office. But now, in the hybrid workplace, they want the same level of support and connectivity they used to have at the office. NTT’s research shows that 96% of C-level executives agree (56% strongly) that evolving work and employee-engagement models are driving new technology demands.

Cloud-based software is the new frontier of control

At the same time, many on-premises applications are moving to the cloud. As this migration gains pace, hardware companies like Cisco and Palo Alto Networks have also started managing policy automation, analysis and more from the cloud, even if their hardware remains on-premises.

They have decoupled the intelligence from their products and put it into cloud-based software that now controls both on-premises and cloud network architecture, producing optimized policies, images, automation and analysis.

So much in this area is now software- and controller-driven, enabling the agility and governance needed to support dynamic business demands. And in this increasingly software-centric environment, both new and legacy assets need to deliver lifecycle value. 

Today’s digital infrastructure needs to drive performance and return on investment with new capabilities – such as controllers, cloud telemetry, AI and machine-learning insights, and analytics enabled by application programming interfaces (APIs) – from multiple technology vendors.

Choosing the right service provider makes a difference

As our clients move from the on-premises hub-and-spoke model to a mix of on-premises and cloud architecture, the fact that some infrastructure is still on-premises – and likely to remain there for some time – can complicate operations and hamper policy-setting.

How should IT departments manage this transition? For organizations that want to retain in-house operational control of all or some of their infrastructure, this scenario requires new skills, new tools and new thinking – and the most efficient way forward involves teaming up with an experienced service provider.

From planning to support: our lifecycle approach

Over the years, NTT has supported 75% of Fortune 500 organizations with our tried-and-tested traditional support services. Now, these have evolved into our Software-defined Infrastructure Services, to keep pace with the digital age.

We support more than 50 hardware vendors and multiple software-defined technologies, and we’ve integrated the capabilities provided by our key partners to create services that are smarter, simpler and more secure.

Beyond keeping up with the shift to software-based infrastructure, we follow a complete lifecycle approach, from the initial planning and design to ongoing operational support.

  1. Planning and onboarding

During the planning and onboarding process, we consider the ideal future state of your infrastructure, based on current best practices aligned with your business needs. For example, what will cloud security look like in a fully software-defined infrastructure?

  1. Implementation and activation

Next comes the implementation, which includes the streamlined activation of software-defined infrastructure (SDI) controllers and faster deployment of new technologies.

  1. Ongoing license management

We then work with you to build a customized blueprint for efficient SDI license lifecycle management.

Our clients are typically realizing savings and efficiencies in excess of 30% through consolidation into Enterprise Agreements and applying best practices for ongoing procurement, including the management of vendor initiatives like Cisco’s True Forward (regular adjustments to account for overconsumption).

License management is simplified with our Digital Wallet, a consolidated source of insights tracking lifecycle status, compliance and utilization across vendors.

We mitigate your financial and operational risk by providing one source of intelligent, easily accessible insights for cost-efficient lifecycle management across a range of license types, including Enterprise Agreements. This is useful because not all vendors follow the same standards and conventions for licenses.

Thereafter we use analytics to provide the single-source visibility and control you need to support lifecycle value and deliver financial and operational efficiencies.

  1. Enhanced visibility and control

To help your IT operations maximize the value of your investments, we bring together multiple data sources in our Services Portal to create a single source of insight, giving you enhanced visibility and control of your legacy hardware and software-defined assets.

To achieve this, we use automation, machine learning and deep, API-level vendor integration, leading to predictive insights and security notifications that help you mitigate risk and improve governance and lifecycle cost management.

Our experience for your benefit

Once you’re able to turn analytics into actionable insights, you can also benefit from recommendations to speed up technology adoption and find opportunities to maximize your lifecycle return on investment. 

In this way, operational software-defined infrastructure management is simplified and enhanced, allowing you to accelerate the digital transformation of your organization with less complexity and risk.

However, it requires a significant level of organizational change. The support of an experienced service provider can make this easier to manage. With access to insights and expertise at the right time, you can accelerate your business success, simplify your IT operations and ensure lifecycle value as your infrastructure evolves.

Read more about NTT’s Software-defined Infrastructure Services.

Dilip Kumar is Chief Digital and Global Business Services Officer at NTT