How can CIOs overcome the hinderances of legacy networks?

The legacy infrastructures that are present across most enterprise organisations are holding back cloud and digital strategies, according to the Riverbed Future of Networking Global Survey 2017.

The reason for this, according to almost all of the survey respondents (97%), is that legacy network infrastructure will have difficulty keeping pace with the changing demands of the cloud and hybrid networks.

In addition, 91% of the respondents also said that their organisation’s cloud strategy will only reach its full potential following the implementation of a next-generation network, to keep up with the needs of their business and end-users.

>See also: Legacy networks ‘holding back cloud and digital transformation’

Given this general consensus that migration to a next-generation network is an important strategic move, it is perhaps surprising that Riverbed also found a current gap in the adoption of next-generation technology such as SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) that can accelerate this process.

However, a tipping point is near – of the IT decision makers surveyed, 93% plan to migrate to SD-WAN within the next four years, up from just 4% today.

Dealing with performance pains

This survey and the resulting data reveals the tremendous pressure that IT decision makers are under to execute their cloud strategies, achieve digital transformation and keep pace with the speed of innovation that is the norm in today’s hypercompetitive markets.

Currently, performance pains experienced by businesses are glaring, as 58% report that they experience cloud-related network issues specifically caused by their legacy infrastructure a few times a month or more, and 93% said it impacts their business at least monthly.

It is clear, therefore, that a gap exists between understanding of the issues around legacy networks, and an actual deployment of solutions that can remedy the issue.

>See also: Accelerating branch office operations with SD-WANs

This pattern is consistent across verticals such as financial, manufacturing, retail, energy and utilities, communications and media, and IT services.

Should organisations fail to take any positive steps to change things, the consequences could be severe.

In a worst-case scenario, organisations afflicted with legacy network issues could find that their competitive position in the market is under threat.

What would you give for a reliable network?

The inability of legacy networks to support cloud-centric applications and workloads, or, provide end-to-end visibility into their performance represents a real challenge to cloud success, and this can be a real cause of frustration in the workplace.

And one of the most significant everyday causes of this frustration is the amount of time that is wasted by IT departments on an almost daily basis just to get the network to perform at the level required to do business.

>See also: The elastic edge of the new age network

In fact, Riverbed’s research found that decision makers would be willing to make quite significant sacrifices if it meant their teams no longer needed to spend as much time to get the network to perform at an adequate level: 54% would endure a longer commute to work; 53% would take shorter lunch breaks; 51% would handwrite all of their email correspondence and 42% would actually stop drinking coffee.

An expanding issue

Simply put, legacy networks are dysfunctional for any business. But through the implementation of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), organisations are able to deliver apps, data, and services from any public, private, or hybrid cloud across any network to any endpoint.

The right SD-WAN solution should allow you to design and change your deployments whilst orchestrating services quickly and easily.

Centralised management with easy-to-use, menu-driven workflows can eliminate tedious, error-prone CLI configuration, whilst intuitive, cloud-centric SD-WAN workflows drive instant expansion of new network end-points, without additional operational overhead. And with zero-touch provisioning to remote locations and automated “single-click” expansion of connectivity and orchestration into cloud environments, SD-WAN removes many of the networking issues associated with business expansion.

>See also: How to wrestle a ball of snakes to ensure digital transformation

Furthermore, an SD-WAN management console should offer you a complete view of the enterprise network, from the hybrid WAN at branch locations, cloud infrastructure environments and even reaching the end-user with branch wireless and wired LAN networks. This allows businesses to identify pressure points and keep traffic at consistent rates.

The move away from legacy networks has been on the business agenda for some time. But feedback from global IT decision makers suggests that it must be moved to the top, as SD-WAN technology will be critical in the modern enterprise to support cloud and digital transformation initiatives.


Sourced by Paul Griffiths, senior director, Advanced Technology Group at Riverbed

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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