According to analysts at IDC, by 2020, some 30 per cent of the world’s top 2000 companies will cease to exist as they are known today. They will have been replaced by new contenders, or been forced to merge or consolidate to survive. Others might simply have folded or been swallowed up by larger concerns.
Global digital business transformation is the force driving change and the companies that survive and thrive will be those that best adapt to the new realities of business life. It is the ability to spot and react to changing market dynamics, and to connect openly and transparently with customers, partners, and suppliers alike.
Intelligent businesses have a strategy to work towards this goal. They recognise the need for collaboration tools both within their company and with their partner and supplier community. They make full use of secure, cloud-based services because they provide a collaborative, flexible and cost-effective deployment option – especially in data-intensive businesses. Cloud services are attractive because they can easily grow with you without breaking the bank in terms of hardware investment.
But if the cloud is a prime enabler of digital business transformation, it must also be recognised that the network is the enabler of the cloud. What’s more, only an intelligent network connection can meet the requirements of an ‘on-demand’ business world.
So, if a business can increase or decrease its cloud resources as and when required, surely a similar facility could be introduced for its network needs. Too often businesses are bandwidth constrained at a time of need, yet the only solution is to commit to year-round over-commissioning of resources with consequent over-payment.
The intelligent requirement for a global enterprise today is a responsive, resilient, high-performance network on which they can lease flexible capacity that can be customised and configured to suit their needs.
Truly ‘on-demand’ network services put the control to consume and configure more bandwidth into the hands of the customer. By removing some of the complexities of contract negotiations, and enabling connections to multiple vendor-neutral facilities across the globe, it becomes possible to put the customer firmly in control of their network resources through a self-service portal, with delivery of the network connection to the Cloud in real time.
Underpinning these advances are the next generation technologies – such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) – that are being delivered today. The adoption of an intelligent, on-demand software-defined network means enterprises will spend less time managing and maintaining their network equipment and more time concentrating on servicing their core business.
IDC predicts that by adopting a network-on-demand approach, organisations will be able to reduce their total cost of network-related operations by an average of between 10 and 28 per cent compared to buying and operating the network equipment themselves.
And while cost is often cited as a main benefit of the on-demand network, a significant proportion of organisations – as high as 18 percent according to one study by Spanish analyst TPNET – see the main benefit as a reduction in the resources required for the management of the network coupled with the flexibility to cope with seasonal variations of network use and to cater for key events and peaks of demand.
SDN and NFV technology create the reality of an on-demand network that offers real-time provisioning of services, consumed by the customer via a self-service portal. An intelligent business network responding to the global connectivity requirements and flexing to suit peaks and troughs of demand.
Technology will, of course, continue to evolve with demand driven by the growth of bandwidth hungry applications like the Internet of Things, video and 5G. Exciting advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence will also impact future networks as machine learning gives them the ability to acquire their own knowledge and automate service consumption.
But to be clear – this not a vision of the future. This is a software-driven reality of today. An intelligent On Demand network is a business asset today. An asset that allows an organisation to dynamically provision its available resources according to real-time business requirements driven by user or customer expectations or demands.
Software is making the network more flexible, more intelligent and better able to serve core strategic business objectives, and therefore allow enterprises to embrace digital transformation.