Key NetOps Priorities for 2021 and 2022
December 01, 2021

Jay Botelho
LiveAction

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Today, business transformation is being driven by remote workforces, the proliferation of data, increasing IT complexity and decreasing budgets and resources. And there's never been a better time to optimize IT efficiency through infrastructure modernization initiatives. The reality is that applications and data no longer need to reside on-premises. The migration to public, hybrid cloud, and SD-WAN environments are adding even more complexity to the daunting task of managing and monitoring the network. As global and emerging technology trends continue to drive the network to evolve at an accelerated pace, we wanted to better understand the current trends and challenges these teams face.

As a result, LiveAction conducted a survey of networking professionals that on average manage more than 500 networking devices at organizations with more than 600 employees. Let's dive into four of the key insights revealed in this report.

1. Deploying or expanding SD-WAN solutions remains the top network transformation priority

The highest priority projects for 2022 are not surprisingly aligned with a move away from antiquated technology in favor of optimized digital agility, security, and cost savings.

According to the survey, 23.5% of respondents claim that SD-WAN adoption is the top network transformation project of 2021, and 28% stated it will remain the top project for 2022 (it was also the top response from a similar survey in 2020). This is likely driven by increases in cloud-oriented deployments that drive complexity, leaving many NetOps teams struggling to gain the visibility needed to manage the performance of SD-WAN deployments.

2. Improving application performance across the entire network is key to refining network operations

Fast, secure, and reliable connections continue to be a foundational component for a business's success. Network downtime is not only disruptive but an incredibly costly mistake that increases by the minute.

When it comes to improving network operations, 20.4% stated that application performance was the top priority. This was followed closely by end-to-end network monitoring.

Today's workers need steady and consistent access to collaborative applications — a priority for many of those we surveyed. Again, highlighting that organizations have a low tolerance for the disruption and downtime associated with poor application performance.

3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIOps) are driving most network technology decisions

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can address complex challenges in real-time based on its ability to intelligently detect and recognize malicious or abnormal activities on the network.

AI-powered networks utilized by the healthcare industry have seen a tremendous boom in recent years, empowering medical professionals with quick decisions about patients.

NetOps teams, including those we surveyed, show an increased interest in AIOps or advanced analytical tools that can assist in baselining and monitoring complex data. Not surprisingly, technology decisions continue to be driven by advances in AI and ML technologies with more than 33% of respondents identifying it as a disruptive force that continues to influence their buying decisions.

When looking to 2022, nearly 16% of respondents identified SASE as an area that will increasingly impact decisions.

4. Business goals are heavily tied to collaboration between NetOps and SecOps

Enterprises understand that their network is no longer a collection of technology assets but a core component to business success. To deliver maximum value and easily support future initiatives, organizations must ensure the network meets business objectives, have full network and application visibility for better decisions, and reduce the cost of operating the network.

Increasing visibility, creating a more secure environment, and expanding upon cloud-first strategies are all high priorities for NetOps. Security was overwhelmingly the leading factor among NetOps professionals concerned with meeting business goals. The survey found that nearly 45% of respondents are focused on improving security. In addition, 17.5% of respondents are focused on improving collaboration between NetOps and SecOps to be more agile and reduce operational costs. This need for more visibility across teams is crucial for collaboration around network performance and security.

It's no secret that IT organizations are adopting disruptive technologies like SD-WAN and cloud, to support digital transformation. Unfortunately, network operations teams often lack the visibility to successfully enable these data-driven change initiatives. This report highlights some of the key area's teams are focused on now and as they move into 2022. It's clear that companies are working to better manage large and complex networks by unifying and simplifying the collection, correlation, and presentation of the application and network data, making it actionable for network management teams.

Jay Botelho is Senior Director of Product Management at LiveAction
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