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Connection is everything. It's the foundation for almost every element of our human existence, enabling us to communicate and facilitating business. 

As humankind has evolved, so have the ways we connect. Today, networks are at the heart of our communication, entertainment and daily routines. They’re also integral to the way we work, as they seamlessly connect people, customers and the digitalized elements of a business. 

Transforming the networks that connect people and business

Organizations want to modernize their business models for maximum efficiency and to keep pace with an increasingly complex digital world.

And it’s the transformation of their networks and information technology (IT) infrastructure that will help them succeed: connected networks, systems, platforms and devices are the only way to meet today's high expectations and support increasing workloads. 

Yet, this is often an overlooked step in navigating the growing demand for digital technology.

Network transformation isn’t easy. Modern enterprise networks are much more than a single pipe. They’re an elaborate collection of devices, systems, services, hardware and software – typically sourced from multiple manufacturers, vendors and service providers – that must work together cohesively. And, you may have legacy components with discrete capabilities that aren't cut out for more than one function at a time.

So, where do you start? We believe you can move in the right direction by addressing the three levers of network transformation: technological, operational and consumption transformation.

1. Technological transformation

As a first step, your focus should be on modernizing your network infrastructure with the latest hardware and software-defined products.

The pace of innovation in network product research and development has never been faster. There’s a continual stream of new products, features and capabilities to help your organization:

  • Improve performance amid an ever-growing volume of data and traffic
  • Match your network's agility to your application and business service portfolio
  • Advance your security posture through an embedded network and security controls
  • Address your infrastructure's sustainability profile 

A big trend in networks is the move from hardware to software-defined technology, which is paving the way for the next two transformation levers. 

2. Operational transformation

Networks must be able to react quickly to changing business environments. Providing operational services to maintain connectivity for hundreds or thousands of users, for hundreds of thousands or even millions of devices and sensors, and for applications and business services spread across hybrid cloud and on-premises locations requires more than just human intervention. 

Downtime and slow networks have a negative business impact, and it's no longer acceptable to take hours to find a fix. Slow and manual-centric operations simply don’t keep up in a demanding business environment. 

Updated models built on central operations platforms have higher levels of automation and use AIOps to identify and rectify issues faster. These advanced techniques enable the deep baselining of existing networks, as well as sophisticated event correlation and anomaly detection. This changes the nature of operations and supports the availability and agility of business-centric networks. 

3. Consumption transformation

Organizations are increasingly looking for innovative ways to pay for their IT infrastructure so they no longer have to rely only on capital-expenditure models to fund projects. In response, the network industry, equipment manufacturers and service providers are providing new and evolving pricing models, such as subscription and as-a-service consumption styles. 

This isn't a new concept, as some parts of the network have been provided as a service for years. A good example is wide area network (WAN) and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) services, where the hardware and software equipment, support and managed services are all wrapped into a regular service fee with low or no upfront capital expenditure.

Other parts of the network, such as the local area network (LAN), wireless (Wi-Fi) and data center network, increasingly have disaggregated hardware and software pricing, with many forms of subscription and as-a-service models emerging.

The strategic value of network transformation

Enterprises that pull one or more of these three levers are laying a solid foundation for realizing the strategic value of modernizing their networks. Pulling all these levers at once would be transformation nirvana! 

Seeking out the expertise and knowledge of an experienced, end-to-end service provider to pull all three levers will deliver much higher levels of value and establish a partnership for the future. There's no question that a high-performing, flexible, automated and modernized network makes the difference between success and failure in a highly competitive digital world.

Read more about our network consulting services to help you transform your network.

Gary Middleton is Vice President: Networking Go-to-Market at NTT.