The application economy has put the digital consumer in the driving seat. They dictate when, where and how they want services delivered. Whether they are using a smartphone or a laptop, digital consumers all want one thing – speed. To be productive at work and play, they need to be in the fast lane, and so do businesses and their networks.
Building a network fit for the application economy means transformation, optimization and virtualization. Today’s networks and processes will not be sufficient to meet digital consumers’ expectations for agility and availability. Services will suffer downtime. Applications will be slow to respond. And digital consumers will be quick to find an alternative. Their expectations are high as recent research reveals that 80-90% of all consumer applications will only be used once.
Embracing new technologies, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), will be key to safeguarding application performance and service continuity in a digital age.
However, organizations must invest and innovate with care. SDN and NFV are both disruptive technologies, which means they have the capacity to both enable and encumber application economy initiatives.
Catalyst for Change
When implementing SDN or NFV, businesses must plan not just for technological change but also operational and cultural change. Performance and fault management will no longer just be about fixing individual issues, but optimizing an overall service to enrich the experience for digital consumers.
To take a more holistic, user-focused approach to performance and fault management, CIOs will need to encourage greater collaboration between teams as well as embed service assurance into their SDN and NFV environments.
As Paul Parker-Johnson, Senior Analyst with ACG Research confirms: “SDN and NFV reshape conventional network designs and introduce the need for new management and service assurance tools to handle implementation.”
A recent Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) study on SDN and network virtualization’s impact on network management reveals even more evidence. Only 32% of communication service providers and enterprises feel confident that their performance management and troubleshooting tools are ready to support SDN and NFV technologies. That leaves a lot of organizations out there unprepared to meet the demands of this next-generation technology that will fuel their network transformations.
To succeed and win in the Application Economy and meet the demands of digital consumers, next-generation service assurance solutions will need to encompass:
■ Automated workflows
■ Physical and virtual network stack visibility
■ Service chain frameworks and metadata
■ Transient data collection
■ Actionable analytics
“A major threat to SDN and NFV success looms. Before SDN can help companies boost productivity and grow revenue, IT organizations must make sure they have the right network management tools in place”, says Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).
Accelerate the DevOps Vision
By prioritizing service assurance alongside network transformation, organizations will also be able to bring greater agility to their development activities. For example, with service assured SDN and NFV, internal and external developers will be able to test new or young applications on live networks, enabling a faster time-to-market and a better user experience.
The ability to meet production and development demands without compromising agility or availability will help organizations move closer to realizing the full vision of DevOps, which delivers significant advantage in a digital age.
With SDN and NFV set to become the backbone of the application economy, organizations need to ensure that next-generation network reliability is assured and optimized at every stage and every layer. Otherwise they risk being left behind in the slow lane. And you can bet digital consumers won’t stick around to enjoy the ride.
Jeremy Rossbach is Sr Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies.
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