Education CenterJune 28, 2022
What is Network Transformation?
Network transformation is the process of thoroughly changing a company’s network infrastructure to improve its efficiency, performance, and scalability. The goal of network transformation is to create a new network architecture that supports both current and future business needs.
For example, migrating to a cloud-based network can reduce internal IT infrastructure costs while allowing for easy network scale. Another example is an organization that has shifted its workforce to remote work and adopted a zero-trust network access (ZTNA) solution to allow remote access to company resources without jeopardizing security.
Why is network transformation important?
Does every company need to initiate a network transformation? In most cases, the answer is yes. Without transforming network infrastructure, companies risk limiting their capabilities and falling behind in the fast-paced digital world. New services are emerging daily, and customers are pressing service providers (SPs) to enable new business demands. Therefore, SPs and enterprises should view network transformation as an essential process.
Here are the key reasons why network transformation is vital:
- Scalability and elasticity: According to TeleGeography, global traffic is increasing by approximately 30% each year. In addition to the growing scale, the shift of traffic is also bouncing from one service to another. For example, a significant amount of traffic bandwidth has shifted from business services to home services due to the working-from-home trend. This changing environment with the constant demand for more bandwidth requires service providers to have a more elastic network. Such elasticity enables SPs to scale their network according to real-time needs and even reallocate resources from one end of the network to another. Legacy network infrastructure is unable to meet these requirements.
- Cost reduction: Traditional networking solutions force service providers to invest heavily in scaling their infrastructure using expensive, bulky platforms. This is at a time when SPs are experiencing revenue reduction from over-the-top (OTT) services and growing operational overhead. Transforming to a more flexible, agile network can help service providers reduce capital investments, operational overhead, and even carbon emissions.
- Operations improvement: It is common to use 5-20 types of routing boxes in a large-scale network, as different network domains often require different routing solutions. This doesn’t even include firewalls, distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) scrubbers, monitoring tools, and load balancers. Managing and operating a network with so many “boxes” that have different management skills, software updates, and spare parts can be challenging. The addition of a limited and inflexible scaling mechanism further complicates matters, making it clear why service providers must seek to transform their network solutions to reduce their operational efforts.
- Security enhancement: New emerging services and distributed multi-cloud environments are creating new cyber threats that legacy network solutions are not able to mitigate. Service providers must evolve their network and security infrastructure to adapt to new market requirements while not jeopardizing security.
- Innovation and agility: Service providers are continually pressed by their customers to adapt and evolve in order to accommodate emerging needs. These range from digital transformation and cloud migration to as-a-service delivery models and, most recently, AI integration. This constant evolution poses a significant challenge to traditional networking solutions. However, network transformation can enable service providers to respond quickly to new opportunities and challenges by adopting more flexible approaches, such as software-centric solutions.
What are the main challenges of network transformation?
Before addressing the process of network transformation, here are its main challenges:
- Integration: Transformation inherently involves migrating from an existing legacy network to a new one. Bridging the technological gap between these systems often requires custom solutions and manual adjustments, which can be time-consuming and skill-intensive.
- Skillsets: When introducing a new technology, the initial phase often requires current operational teams to adapt in order to operate the new network efficiently. This often involves internal training and the hiring of skilled personnel.
- Future-proofing: Network transformation should not only address current requirements but also anticipate evolving business needs. As a result, SPs must choose technologies/solutions with the ability to scale and adapt to any future need.
- Cost: As with many processes, cost can be a significant factor. Network transformation can be expensive, depending on the scale of the change. Service providers should have a clear plan for return on investment before embarking on the transformation journey.
What are the key phases of network transformation?
Although each network transformation project is unique, such projects generally follow a series of essential steps:
- Planning: Evaluate the existing network and identify future needs.
- Design: Choose the right technology, craft an adequate blueprint, and partner with a proven vendor.
- Implementation: Once a vendor is selected, establish a clear deployment schedule. Begin with a small pilot test, followed by a more scalable yet containerized implementation of the solution to ensure that performance on the live network remains unaffected.
- Live rollout: After the pilot test has proven successful across key performance indicators (KPIs), proceed to a full-scale rollout executed in phases to manage risk.
- Post-launch: Once live, both optimization and monitoring become imperative for sustaining performance levels. As the rollout continues region by region, monitor all KPIs to preemptively address potential issues.
- Review: Assess the success of the process, provide insights, and offer ways to improve similar processes in the future.
What solution best facilitates network transformation?
Service providers and enterprises face challenges in meeting their customers’ evolving needs due to static networks. Network transformation allows SPs to completely change their network technology and operational methods, thereby delivering the new capabilities required. For example, a shift towards a software-based network infrastructure can free service providers from the constraints of inflexible physical infrastructure, enabling the creation of an adaptable network architecture that is also budget-efficient.
DriveNets Network Cloud facilitates network transformation for service providers, enabling them to build their networks like cloud. It moves away from the traditional hardware-centric approach based on rigid constraints of the physical infrastructure and transitions to a dynamic, software-based architecture. This shift allows for an elastic use of hardware resources in response to real network demands. It also reduces costs through openness and vendor freedom, while optimizing hardware expenses, rack space, and power usage.
Additional Network Transformation Resources
- From Legacy to Disaggregated Networks: KDDI Deploys DriveNets Network Cloud
- Comcast Unlocks Operational Value from DDC Architecture
- The Service Provider Dilemma: To Update or Not to Update
- Get Back to Basics to Overcome Service Provider Fear of Change
- Season 3 Ep 9: KDDI deploys Network Cloud
- Season 3 Ep 6: Real World Network Operations
- Season 3 Ep 4: Service Provider Panel at MWC