Across the board, business dependence on IT is growing. 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 IoT, machine learning, virtual reality and all their related business applications are boosting the volumes of data to be transported.
Bandwidth demand is set to explode, yet many businesses have yet to put plans in place to make sure they can 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 manage your network infrastructure, you need to control capacity, security and quality. For example when you subscribe to a SaaS application, you need to focus on your network, not just your datacentre or cloud. You need to understand how applications will be consumed, which connections need to be available and the volume of traffic from the different locations in your SaaS environment.
A main cost driver of your network comes down to the bandwidth needed within the different segments of your 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.
Timely transitioning of your network architecture for future needs will prevent your costs from growing faster than your business.
Planning for your 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 world of exploding bandwidth hunger you need to:
- Identify your business-critical applications that need guaranteed bandwidth.
- Identify your top bandwidth-consuming applications and analyse their usage.
- Understand your current and future voice, video and IoT strategies along with any related infrastructure landscapes.
- Understand your business goals and how they impact your technical infrastructure.
- Understand the geographical spread of your user communities by application profile.
- Review your major business changes, mergers and acquisitions and 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 you can justify the timely investments needed for your network infrastructure to deliver and facilitate business value.
Exploding bandwidth in practice
During a recent project, we worked with a global car manufacturer looking to move to SD-WAN and improve the way their engineering department could work. They wanted to use specialists distributed across all continents to work together in a CAD platform, running engine simulations for a prototype engine and performing analysis of the terabytes of data being produced.
The new engine was required to meet the demands of a new generation of cars. Time to market was crucial and, in an age where appropriate skillsets are scarce, they wanted anyone who could support such data intensive work to be able to contribute — regardless of location.
Their network was managed by multiple service providers with regional coverage, meaning it lacked the flexibility it needed to adapt to meet the required bandwidth in time. By building a business case for their future network architecture that are linked to their actual needs, we could help them on their digital transformation journey. This future network architecture, based on SD-WAN technology, was designed to securely connect users to the resources they need, without hard-coding access and raising service tickets with service partners — giving them the flexibility they required.
Avoid costly hindsight
Only when businesses understand their needs and the impact of those needs on their network bandwidth, can the decision be made to allocate budget, initiate a project and sign a contract.
Lack of understanding will provoke a typical cost-avoidance approach that will inevitably trigger late investments — brought in only after major issues have been discovered. Consequently, you risk significantly damaging your business - IT relationship.
Using new network technology such as SD-WAN, along with an aligned network architecture to meet your business needs will not only lower the cost per MB for your network, but also allow your business to run efficiently — protecting the benefits of investments across other parts of your business.
Find out how we can help you align your network bandwidth with your future needs.