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One driving factor of modern network transformation among organizations is the desire to increase productivity with less money or resources -- basically, to do more with less. But that ideal has its own unique challenges.
This trend and other network transformation goals of IT teams in 2019 reflect the overall business goals of their organizations, according to a study conducted by Sirkin Research -- now Arras Consulting -- for LiveAction, a network management vendor. Respondents included more than 160 IT and network professionals in organizations with at least $1 billion in revenue.
The study examined four areas of network transformation:
- business goals
- network transformation projects
- network operations (NetOps) challenges
- network performance goals
The study also looked at organizations' growing desire to move away from legacy infrastructures and adopt more modern tools and technologies -- in particular, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), Wi-Fi, multi-cloud and edge computing. While these innovations can improve an IT team's holistic visibility into the network, they can also introduce networks to different types of challenges.
Overall, the study found that organizations listed increased network agility and consolidated network monitoring tools as the main drivers of network transformation in 2019 -- again, doing more with less.
Key business goals for network transformation projects
The idea of doing more with less has evolved from legacy networking desires to modern NetOps goals. Increasing network agility is a major factor in achieving this goal, and 34% of respondents said this is a priority for their organization.
IT teams based their 2019 network transformation projects on this need for network agility, according to the study. The highest priority projects were those that move networks from legacy architecture to modern environments -- such as cloud and SD-WAN -- for agility and cost reasons. For example, SD-WAN can reduce an organization's WAN costs and ease deployment for distributed sites, while cloud environments offer scalability, real-time access to applications and reduce costs.
The top three projects among those surveyed included deployment or expansion in three areas: switched infrastructure, multi-cloud connectivity and public cloud infrastructure. Because individual networks have different requirements and tools, the process of changing from legacy to modern infrastructures varies depending on the network team's resources and the network's ability to transform.
Goals and challenges of NetOps and network performance
The top issue among the IT professionals surveyed was a lack of time to complete business initiative projects -- 43% of respondents said they struggle with this. In addition, 42% of respondents said they struggle to troubleshoot across the network as a whole. These blind spots can impede NetOps, network performance quality and, therefore, network transformation.
Overall, a poorly performing network negatively affected business performance as a whole, respondents said. As such, respondents said they would prioritize the following areas of network performance: application performance, remote site performance, and endpoint and wireless performance. These improvements were among the most common goals for networking and IT professionals, according to the study.
To support these network transformation goals, 37% of teams said they hope to upgrade their network performance management service. Teams can address several network performance issues with improved end-to-end visibility of their network and more insight into specific network issues. Around 39% of respondents said they consolidated legacy monitoring tools to meet this need, while others sought different services or automated their network configuration change management tools, the study said.