Modernization Limited by Legacy Tech Despite Increasing Budgets
October 19, 2020

Jonathan Sullivan
NS1

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The COVID-19 pandemic has compressed six years of modernization projects into 6 months. According to the recent report, Meeting Application and Access Network Modernization Challenges, IT leaders have accelerated projects aimed at increasing productivity and business agility, improving application performance and end-user experience, and driving additional revenue through existing channels.

In a study of more than 400 technology leaders from mid- to large-sized companies across the US, UK, and Germany, NS1 and IDG Research examined enterprise network and application modernization efforts. For the study, modernization was defined as the transformation of IT platforms of all types, applications, governance, and processes to achieve desired business outcomes. Results revealed that 80% of organizations are struggling to reach application delivery requirements on top of their existing infrastructure. With the pandemic placing additional burden on supporting infrastructure that was in many cases already running at redline, efforts to modernize networks and applications to meet demand are accelerating, with 83% reporting budget increases for related initiatives over the next three years.

According to the report, IT modernization initiatives that were expected to span 5 years are being rapidly condensed. Within the broad scope of IT modernization, companies are prioritizing transformation initiatives for:

■ mobility (70%)

■ remote data access (68%)

■ automation (65%)

■ security (61%)

■ IT resilience (60%)

Other areas where efforts are accelerating include public and private cloud deployments (58% and 57% respectively), improvements to scalability (58%), and deployment velocity (56%). Also interesting to note: private cloud was a greater priority in the US, cited by 65% of respondents vs. 44% in the UK and 54% in Germany.

And yet, even with the heightened sense of urgency and budget behind them, survey respondents reported facing a number of obstacles in their IT modernization projects. Although 4 out of 5 acknowledge some progress with modernization, only 8% report that they have achieved their initial objectives, and 28% report "significant progress" (75% or greater).

Challenges to modernization include a skill and talent skills gap along with competing priorities (both 37%), as well as aging networks (35%) and the outdated and rigid organizational structures that often come with them. Technical and operational debt was cited by 31% overall, although it was more of an obstacle in the US and Germany (37% and 32%, respectively) vs. the UK (19%).

These findings illustrate how it is crucial for organizations to examine the core technologies that enable them to deploy, connect, and deliver applications in order to ensure they can provide the user experiences required in today’s modern world. Static, legacy tech drags down modernization efforts because it lacks the flexibility and agility necessary to support dynamic, scalable applications and IT environments.

Successful digital transformation starts with modernizing the foundational components of enterprise networking and application infrastructure

Successful digital transformation starts with modernizing the foundational components of enterprise networking and application infrastructure — DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, known collectively as DDI. When a DDI platform is purpose-built for speed, reliability, and scalability, it can provide massive benefits that can be leveraged all the way up and down the stack, and horizontally and across complex, heterogeneous environments.

The study found that 45% of respondents are currently using DDI, and another 48% plan to adopt the technology within 12 months. Current adopters reported the two most common use cases to be accelerating service discovery in microservice environments (60%) and connecting cloud and on-premise applications and data (56%). Those with plans to implement DDI (59%) cited the ability to connect cloud and on-premise applications and data as a top benefit. Other major use cases for modern DDI adoption included accelerating application delivery (55%), automating network management tasks (54%), accelerating service discovery in microservices environments (42%), and controlling costs associated with application and network management (40%).

In addition to DDI, nearly all companies are adopting modern application stack solutions that are aimed directly at addressing network and application performance requirements. This includes network monitoring tools, where 96% of respondents were either already implementing or planning to implement within 12 months. Other top choices were public/private cloud and multi-cloud (94%), automation and orchestration solutions (93%), intelligent traffic management (87%), and multi-CDN (85%).

Jonathan Sullivan is CTO at NS1
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