One of the most discussed topics today in any board-level meetings is the Digitization Agenda of Enterprises. This agenda pushes businesses to adopt the latest technologies so that they’re fully equipped to handle the evolving needs of the digital era.
In this digital era, the communications industry is transforming itself to deliver connected possibilities across industries. This re-positioned system integrators to play the role of a Digital Ecosystem Integrator. These firms combine the technology (ex. Software, Cloud, Devices, AI, ML etc.), business (ex. developers, startups, SMEs, ect) and industry domains (ex. Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare, Financial Services, Energy & utilities, etc.) to drive the digitization agenda for enterprises. Several large transformative deals are being observed in the industry.
Some of the aspects involved in these transformations include Cloud / IT transformation, Networks, Applications, Experience, Security, Sustainability, etc.
Enterprise Networks are an important element of this transformation journey for enterprises across verticals. Historically, enterprise networks were purposefully built with very rigid architectures to deliver specific features. For instance, connectivity typically implied fully managed solutions. With the growing needs of enterprises, there are significantly higher expectations from the underlying networks. However, archaic, legacy networks often hinder the ability to introduce new capabilities. The approach of applying selective change also results in higher costs and more points of failure.
If the underlying question is “Do enterprise networks need to transform to survive?”, the answer is yes. The digital age comes with several new types of challenges and use-cases that require digitization of these networks. For example, an enterprise looking to offer their employees secure access to work from home must create an application that delivers an enhanced experience and ‘always-on’ capability. This type of use case would require the latest secure SD-WAN / SASE solutions, multi-cloud network capabilities and reliable connectivity.
There are also industry expectations to create on-demand networks that cater to specific requirements. Many times, customers opt for portals that allow the selection of a particular experience for a specified period of time and payment as per the service consumed. Some leading operators have launched such services in the past which have highly benefited customers, in areas like healthcare.
In recent times, the expectations from Enterprise Networks continue to vary and grow. Like IT, Enterprise Networks need their strategy and execution plan for transformation. And this will be a multi-billion dollar market opportunity in the next few years.
A plethora of choices are to be made for various areas like software-defined networks, multi-cloud, 5G, AI and Automation, Security, and many others to shape more flexible, secure, and programmable networks. While areas like Cloud, SD-WAN, etc., are better understood, other areas have distinct adoption paths. Therefore, these technologies are widely being adopted by businesses while others like SASE and 5G are still evolving in the enterprise space.
An Omdia report has highlighted that over 70% of enterprises believe that 5G networks will have a big impact.
Amongst many, a key aspect in the future of Enterprise Networks is resiliency. With the task of managing several critical business needs and tasks, it will be essential for enterprise networks to ensure telco-like availability. Large scale adoption of hyperscalers is accelerating multi-cloud constructs to fortify resilience.
The enterprise networks space has been dominated mainly by large players who are constantly innovating and investing in new solutions and roadmaps. There have also been instances of strategic acquisitions in the industry for companies to remain competitive in the SD-WAN market.
Additionally, there are new industry initiatives like Lean NFV which are helping to reinvent the enterprise networks space. They are providing cutting edge solutions to realize general NFV management and moving away from having multiple network management systems. This helps to achieve easy deployment and rapid innovation. The Lean NFV is endorsed by several leaders from top companies and academia.
Many organisations have now been associated with several initiatives across the wider Enterprise Networks landscape and are playing a crucial role in driving the digitization agenda for enterprises across verticals.