Digital transformation has been one of the biggest buzzwords in business for a while now. There's a widespread recognition that in order for any firm to be successful, it must have fast and agile digital capabilities. But are organisations really getting the solutions they need?
Many such initiatives may be held back by slow speeds and poor connectivity. In a recent article for Tech Target, Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research observed that last year, businesses around the world spent $12 billion (£8.52 billion) on technologies to make their IT networks more agile. However, many of these investments will be wasted unless firms also look to modernise their underlying infrastructure.
"The harsh reality is that most businesses are ploughing forward aggressively with digital transformation initiatives, but haven't considered what needs to happen to the network to make those initiatives a success," Mr Kerravala said. "It makes no sense to run next-generation application and compute platforms on legacy networks. That would be like upgrading the engine in a car but leaving old, worn-out tyres on it."
The solution, he suggests, is wide area Ethernet (WAE) services. While this technology has been around for a while, it has yet to gain a significant level of adoption among business users, mainly because its benefits did not clearly assist with the challenges organisations were facing. But as technology advances, this is changing.
For instance, one challenge many businesses are currently facing is the huge increase in the amount of data they have to deal with. ZK Research estimates that 90 per cent of all data ever created has been generated in the last two years, with technologies such as mobility, video and IoT putting more pressure on networks.
Mr Kerravala said: "This means businesses must have an agile network where bandwidth can be increased on demand. Ethernet has had this capability for years; bandwidth can be added quickly as well as cost-effectively."
Another factor in WAE's favour is its well-defined standards and numerous security options, such as private network solutions that ensure information is never transferred using the public internet. In an age where data protection regulations are tightening and suffering data breaches can have huge impacts on a firm's reputation, these security features will be essential as more activities are done digitally.
Finally, adopting WAE can help tackle the growing complexity of today's networks. Mr Kerravala explained that developments such as software defined networking and white boxes have made operating a network much more difficult. However, he said: "Ethernet is widely deployed in data centres and on campus networks because it's simple to install and manage. In turn, wide-area Ethernet services extend that simplicity across the WAN to branch offices."