Gert Bergers, Business Consultant, BT
Across the board, the digitisation movement is driving increased business dependence on IT. Application and infrastructure landscapes are changing rapidly as businesses adopt ever more data hungry services.
On top of that digital voice and video usage is increasing, along with data analytics projects. Plus, new technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, virtual reality and all their related business applications are boosting the volumes of data to be transported. Bandwidth demand is therefore set to explode! But, are businesses prepared to be able to deliver?
The shifting face of infrastructure management
Infrastructure management has changed. IT has become the service orchestrator for business and needs to make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place to execute business as planned. To better manage their network infrastructure, businesses need to be able to control capacity, security and quality.
For example, when subscribing to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application, the business will need to focus on their network, not just their datacentre or cloud. The business will also need to understand how applications will be consumed, which connections need to be available and the volume of traffic from the different locations in their SaaS environment.
A main cost driver of the business network comes down to the bandwidth needed within the different segments of the network. These network segments may be private (LAN, Wi-fi, MPLS) or public (Internet, 5G, 4G). Changes to network capacity require physical validations, contract negotiations and delivery times which can be impacted by the need to work on streets or third-party owned premises. And, timely transitioning of the network architecture for future needs will prevent the costs from growing faster than the business.
Planning for future bandwidth needs
In my experience, many companies lack an understanding of their current bandwidth needs for each of their locations and planning for their future needs is often careless. This provokes unwanted, and often unexpected, constraints on their total infrastructure capacity — not only impacting the business’ perception of IT but also negatively affecting their bottom line.
To plan for the future in a digital world of exploding bandwidth hunger a business needs to:
• Identify its business-critical applications that need guaranteed bandwidth
• Identify its top bandwidth-consuming applications and analyse their usage
• Understand its current and future voice, video and IoT strategies along with any related infrastructure landscapes
• Understand its goals and how these may impact the business’ technical infrastructure
• Understand the geographical spread of its user communities by application profile
• Review its future/major business changes, mergers and acquisitions and/or key growth strategy
• Validate the network impact of any major roll-out of software targeted at all users
• Implement proper capacity planning and network monitoring
• Model financial impact on network scenarios and build a financial understanding, so that budget is secured in good time
By doing this the business will be better able to justify the timely investments needed for its network infrastructure to deliver and facilitate business value and meet growing customer needs.
Additionally, by using new network technology such as SD-WAN, along with an aligned network architecture to meet the business’s needs, the business will not only lower the cost per MB for its network, but this will also allow the business to operate efficiently — simultaneously protecting the benefits of investments across other parts of the business.