Thanks to everyone who attended our hybrid network webinar last week. In our session, we discussed why businesses today may need to rethink their network strategy and the growing need to adopt or evolve a hybrid strategy. We got some great feedback – and a lot of follow-up questions.
Here’s a sample of some of the more general topics that came up in our Hybrid Network webinar.
A: Control, flexibility and adaptability. Having a hybrid mix of networks is a direct response to the hybrid cloud services that organisations now access to support their businesses. Different types of network – MPLS, Internet, Ethernet – have different features and value propositions. The trick is to match each one to the service it is carrying.
A hybrid network coupled with dynamic path selection can automate the choice of the best path for particular applications. And with application-based load balancing across all available connectivity, you can optimise your bandwidth utilisation. It’s all about getting the balance right – for example, not wasting money and resources on using more expensive MPLS bandwidth for non-critical traffic but retaining MPLS where business critical apps need those service levels & guarantees.
A: Our intelligent software-defined network enables centralised control of application performance across hybrid networks. We’re already seeing huge interest from retailers and other organisations with distributed sites that have mixed hybrid network and application performance needs. Financial services and healthcare will benefit from using a hybrid network to add extra layers of security, for example, but the bottom line is that any multinational with a global footprint and complex network requirements will find use cases that justify the investment.
A: Absolutely. Any applications can be routed across BT Connect Intelligence IWAN and experience enhanced performance. We give IT and Network Managers the ability to classify over 1,200 applications by default. For in-house apps we simply add those to the application list with the performance parameters they require.
Q: What would be considered the industry best-practice way to evolve legacy network architectures to take advantage of SDN, NfV and SD-WAN?
A: Every organisation is at different stages of network evolution, some have recent investments they need to sweat; others are trying to integrate disparate technologies that came with acquisition. All are interested in next-generation network technologies like SDN (Software Defined Networking), NfV (Network Function Virtualisation) and SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Networks).
The best approach is to identify the points in your global network that would give the fastest return on having the visibility and control that these technologies can deliver.
But approach carefully, you are dealing with nascent technologies where best practise rules are still being written. You will need a partner like BT that has the technical competency and experience to deploy them. You need someone with labs and testing facilities to replicate your application loads and services to optimise the opportunity. Ideally, they will also be able to identify opportunities to sweat existing assets, like being able to re-use existing customer premises equipment. We’re talking about evolution rather than revolution.
A: This is facet of intelligent networks that strikes a chord with organisations struggling to manage increasingly complex IT environments. For the last few years we’ve seen the rise of “shadow IT”, where individual business units have gone off and done their own thing – sales signing up for Salesforce, HR to Workday or product development to Amazon Web Services. There is little or no consideration as to how it will impact on bandwidth availability across the rest of the organisation – hence the loss of power that the question alludes to.
The simple answer is “yes”, because software defined networks are predicated on providing central control and greater visibility of traffic and applications. If an organisation is getting to the point where it wants a single–window view of a global network, that gives it the ability to optimise services and maximise investments, it leaves little room for individual departments to go native and undermine the big picture strategy.