Developing the Software Defined Managed Network


SDN, Managed Networks

It’s 5am and I’m wide awake with my 11-month old daughter lying across the bed for the forth night, and morning in a row. I was planning to go back to sleep but that didn’t quite work out, so here I am, sitting in my office at 5am penning this blog.

Now before you think oh god, not another blog on SDN, bear with me (I promise you this is worth reading on!) I am more than aware we’re all being inundated with content around SDN and it’s all just starting to become background noise, but while we can’t deny it is the next era of networking in the fast-moving digital business world, the real-world delivery of SDN is few and far between.

As most of you are aware, networks today aren’t built to deliver digital transformation, however there are a range of themes that are driving the need for the network to change to support the digital landscape, so what are they?

Well, we know that the datacentre is no longer in one place. We consume application services from a multitude of clouds, whether that is a hyperscaler such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, or from a ‘Software as a Service’ provision such as Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce or Dropbox - all the way to the private datacentre hosting our ‘business imperative and critical’ applications.

The next theme is the advance of intelligent cyber threats and I think it’s fair to say, we’ve all been exposed to this in some form, especially with the recent ransomware outbreaks namely ‘Wannacry’ and ‘Goldeneye.’ These attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and now use a plethora of attack vectors.

In addition to cyber threats, mobility is becoming ever more critical to drive productivity from a differentiated workforce. The perimeter of the network is becoming extremely blurred and is adding strain to IT departments which are managing multiple devices from a variety of locations from multiple user types.

This leads me to the final theme and an industry favourite, best known as the ‘Internet of Things,’ – the revolutionary movement which is seeing businesses and individuals connecting pretty much everything that can be connected, to the network.

So, what’s so important about all these themes?

Well, the network touches every aspect of them. I think you’ll agree with me when I say networks weren’t architected to support these themes and so to really adopt and see the benefit of them, we require a new approach to the design, delivery and operation of networks to support the digital business of today and tomorrow.

But these themes aren’t the only driver of digitisation in our customers. I often hear first-hand the need to digitise processes and remove as many manual and human interventions as possible. But this requirement for streamlined and agile IT also calls for a new approach to network design. With this in mind, at ANS we plan, design, deliver and operate our customers networks with digitisation. We’ve spent an abundance of time producing the tools necessary to deliver the right network infrastructure foundation to deliver on all digitisation objectives.

So, how do we support our customers digitisation strategy, what are the tools we’ve developed, and how do they benefit our customers?

As with most approaches, the most important stage of any engagement is the assessment of current capabilities and processes. An assessment helps us to understand if the existing network infrastructure can deliver on the promises of digitisation, but it also enables us to understand what is required to provide the platform for digitisation and what steps are required to get there using an industry based approach and methodology.

We then guide our customers to invest in the right network infrastructure platform, that is programmable from a hardware and software perspective, we also ensure it is model and policy driven and supports all the open standards required for now and for the future.

Our automation and orchestration tools provide both ANS and our customers with several well-known, industry standard benefits however, the additional benefit comes from integrating all these tools into our service management platform. This allows our customers to easily consume our digital network services, whether that is to obtain a real-time status of operations, make a change, diagnose a fault or deploy a new service. An automated service, allows our customers to realise the benefits of digitisation faster, efficiently and drive relevant business outcomes.

This process of adoption certainly hasn’t been easy and the industry is testament to that, with the number of failed translation of digital initiatives into tangible business outcomes. But at ANS we’re quite different to any other Managed Networks and Platforms providers. For a start, we are the UK’s leading Managed Networks and Platforms provider, having built a 20-year heritage in innovative technologies and practices. Our team has grown exponentially in that time and our leading reputation has attracted some of greatest networking talent in the country which has enabled us to develop and deliver the tools necessary for the digital platforms of today and tomorrow.

Our experience has enabled us to support the first digital hospital, university and manufacturing facility each providing additional digital experience, which is crucial to the success of such an initiative.

On a closing note, my advice would be to always engage in an assessment, understand your capabilities, define your vision, then build the roadmap to get you there. There’s never a better time to build out your strategy for digitisation and discover how your network is pivotal in getting you there.

Be sure to watch this space for regular updates on how we’re progressing with our ‘Software Defined’ Managed Network, which is what I’m christening it now before Marketing gets hold of it!

In the meantime, if you just can’t get enough of SDN, why not check out our technical SDN whitepaper to find out how you can revolutionise the performance of your applications.

 

Posted by Mark Johnson