Network Modernisation – a Corporate Board issue?

By Tim Wadey

Why are you doing this network project? 

In the past you did not need to ask this question.  The old network was unsupported, and the capacity was constraining the business.  There were different questions of course; which vendor? where is capacity needed? Layer 2 or Layer 3? and wide area connectivity?  In the last year this has changed.  It is often now security or digital with examples such as:

  • An adverse audit comment requiring network segmentation and a zero-trust network architecture.
  • A customer stating that the network refresh is security project, “we need to show the security benefits”.
  • A global organisation with the money coming from different budgets, technology refresh from the CIO, segmentation and zero trust from Security – aligned with the Chief Risk Officer (CRO).
  • Businesses being driven to becoming digital to respond to the pandemic and remain competitive.

The key thing is the next network has become a Board issue.  Not because it will be expensive, but because it is a cyber-security or audit issue.  Accountability might sit with the CIO, but the CRO is interested and has a direct line to the Board.  In addition, the Board level drive for the business to become fully digital requires a “fit for purpose” platform to provide the ability for the digital teams to deploy new services.

Why has this changed? 

I think it is a result of convergence of the most significant change in network architecture for 25 years and the threat environment, new threats driving the development of new countermeasures.  

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is the technical change – the new architecture, with the software defined logical network built on a general-purpose underlay physical network.  This approach relies on the ability to encrypt every flow on the fly.  This needed the advances in processing power that are becoming commonplace.  The ability to “virtualise” networks has been around for a while, but the business need to segregate traffic and to positively identify who is accessing the network is driven by the cyber threats.  The need to provide the digital initiatives with a modern agile platform that will continue to support change, rather than constrain it, is also key.

But SDN brings so much more, including:

  • Digital user experience can be monitored and measured across the whole stack using the detailed telemetry.
  • Organisational agility through the ability to re-programme the network and automatically deploy changes.
  • Improved application experience as every application flow can be identified, categorised and automatically allocated to the correct quality of service.
  • Reduced outages as changes are automated and roll out efficiently and accurately eliminating finger trouble and enhancing the security posture.
  • Faster incident resolution supported by Artificial Intelligence.
  • Early detection of threats from the network telemetry which can detect anomalous behaviour and has the potential to contain it.
  • Simplified hardware support as replacements are simple device swaps, the virtualised network restarts on the new platform.

Whilst the cyber risk might be what has elevated requirement for investment it gives the CIO the opportunity to showcase the full value of building a true next-generation network.

What should you do next?

If your business is going through a transformational change (as most currently are), and you want to understand how you can reach your organisational goals through securing and modernising your network, then please contact Logicalis. We have a team of experts who can share their knowledge and provide solutions for each individual business case. Get in touch with us today at info@uk.logicalis.com to schedule a workshop with our experts.