Digital Transformation: Don’t Forget the Edge of Your Network

IoT. Cyber security. Cloud apps. Live video. Big Data. Mobile. Everywhere you look, digital transformation is impacting the way enterprises are doing business.

However, for many enterprises digital transformation is further down road than in the rear view mirror. According to TechRepublic, barriers to digital transformation include cultural issues like an inability to experiment quickly, risk-averse leadership or business silos preventing business lines from connecting; resource issues like a lack of skills or budget; and technical issues like legacy systems that can’t keep pace with the needs of digital.

Cultures can adapt, skills can be hired, and budgets can be increased. Legacy hardware? That’s a tougher barrier to overcome. Global IT spending is projected to be $3.7 trillion in 2018; extrapolate that figure backwards over the past 10-15 years and it’s not an exaggeration to say that most enterprises are sitting on IT investments valued in the hundreds of millions or even billions. Many of these investments include legacy networks characterized by hardware such as centralized data centers and the use of distribution points to distribute data.

But when it comes to the edge of your network, yesterday’s networking combined with today’s bandwidth-intensive technologies are a major cause for concern when it comes to performance. There are two sides of the coin when we talk about performance:

Business performance:

Think about a bandwidth-heavy task like live streaming a CEO presentation to your global workforce or sending out a 4GB patch to hundreds of thousands of devices on your network. In both cases, you are pushing out a ton of data on your network all at once. The rest of your critical business applications will slow to a crawl while your high-priority data makes its way across the network, keeping your employees from being able to do their work.

Application performance:

If your network can’t handle the delivery of your CEO’s live stream town hall video, your employees will experience choppy video, constant buffering, or even struggle to connect at all. This will frustrate your employees, embarrass your CEO, and likely lead to some significant fallout in the corporate comms and IT departments. Similarly, if you can’t get a patch out to every computer in time, you leave your entire network open to preventable attacks.

When undertaking digital transformation, it’s important to not just think about the new technology and all its benefits. It’s critical you think about how that transformation will play out at the edge of your network. Only then will you see the full benefit of your initiative. Short of tearing out your legacy network, how can you ensure your network can handle your latest digital transformation initiative? The answer lies in two digital transformation trends themselves: the cloud and automation.

Cloud platforms like Kollective use software defined networking to optimize your physical network. Using the cloud, peering technology can work around chokepoints in your network to distribute bandwidth-heavy content such as video or software patches. Instead of buying more hardware for distributions points, Kollective’s software can actually reduce the amount of distribution points required in your network by 90%.

Meanwhile, automation lets the software self-optimize, self-scale and self-heal to adjust to changes in traffic patterns or physical changes to the network. By learning and adapting to your network’s topography, it can increase content delivery efficiency and effectiveness without requiring new hardware or even IT input.

Digital transformation is business transformation. The more effectively you can adapt new technologies, the greater the competitive advantage you’ll have over slower-to-adapt competitors. By using software to optimize your network, you’ll ensure these advantages make it to the very edge of your network for the benefit of your employees and your bottom line.

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