04 Mar

Business advantage - the need for the intent-driven network

Welcome to the 3rd installment in our series, examining the need to dramatically re-architect our networks in the face of continual business and technological disruption.

Our discussion has largely been based around Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report.

In the 1st piece we discussed the need for a new type of network, and identified some of the key global business trends that are impacting on this need.

In the 2nd piece similarly we examined the key technology trends forcing us to evolve networking architectures and operations.

This 3rd and final piece in the series will summarise the primary objectives for this new type of network and will help you to assess where your network currently sits on a continuum toward a best in class future state.

The objectives of the new network

The headline statement is that the new network needs to be able to adapt quickly – and ideally automatically – to changing business requirements.

To quote Cisco’s Ravi Chandrasekaran:

“Networks will operate as a system with increasing levels of autonomy, taking into account their own state, the dynamic state of all the users and applications, and the vast array of possible options.”

Cisco’s report points to 4 primary objectives for the new network:

4 primary objectives for IT security

This is all about meeting the needs of digital business – but we need to be able to measure where we are along the continuum to achieve these objectives.

How does this new network work in practice?

In essence, networks need to be designed to meet the underlying goals of the business – in other words, new networks need to be “intent-based”.

Below is a use case example from Cisco of how they envision this could pan out in a practical sense.  From a Comscentre perspective however, the network depicted here, while idyllic, is still some way off for most businesses.

Though Cisco’s depiction paints a picture of security best practice in theory – in a more practical sense, we’re not yet at a point where the security protocols of many businesses will support full automation across the network.

While many customers are already reaping the significant benefits of increased levels of automation across the network, organisations of all sizes are still unwilling to remove all human element and relinquish control.

That said, the notion that networks should be designed to support the business’s objectives remains and businesses should continue striving for an “intent-based” network, whatever practical form that may take.

Intent based network

Measuring where your network is at

Cisco’s research indicates we might not be as close to best practice as we think. In fact, they found that while 39% of IT leaders believe that their networks are very well aligned to meet the demands of digital business, only 19% of network strategists believe the same to be true.

Comscentre and Cisco are supporting a “digital readiness maturity model” to assist organisations understand where their network is at, as the 1st step in an improvement journey toward best practice.

Comscentre and Cisco digital readiness maturity model

The model can be applied across multiple network readiness categories such as architecture, access, WAN, assurance, network security, etc.

Where does your network currently sit along this continuum?

Next steps

  1. Download the full research report
  2. Register to receive a free network maturity assessment to determine where your current network lies along the maturity continuum, and to receive some high level advice on building an improvement/progression plan
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