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The Network Is the Engine

Oct. 1, 2017
5 Tickets to Ride the Digital Express — The Transcontinental Railroad was one of the greatest accomplishments that early America saw, connecting the east to west. In many ways, the 21st […]
5 Tickets to Ride the Digital Express —

The Transcontinental Railroad was one of the greatest accomplishments that early America saw, connecting the east to west. In many ways, the 21st Century move to digitally cohesive organizations mirrors that effort. Think of it as laying tracks on a very long journey. But, time is not on our side in today’s world, where technologies such as the Cloud, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence promise to change the way we live. And modernizing the networks is a requirement to make it all run.

While networks for the past 20 years have served a relatively straightforward purpose of providing connectivity, it’s become clearer that many haven’t been optimized to innovate in the new digital era. A proliferating lack of flexibility has proven a roadblock to being able to embrace emerging technologies that deliver real business value and anticipate future business needs. In turn, service providers and enterprises face an uphill battle keeping up with end-user demand for new service requests in a cost-effective and simple way.

If left unaddressed, legacy networks will prove unsustainable from a capability and cost standpoint.

Currently, networks are in a transitional phase of adapting to new models that layer software, virtualized network functions, and automation capabilities, to efficiently meet service-level agreement requirements and lower costs. Just as Cloud customers now order compute and storage on demand, service-provider business customers will soon have the capability to order networks on demand to eliminate organizational silos and fragmented workflows in the Cloud.

Ultimately, the goal is to gain a competitive edge through rapid application development and delivery. The elimination of inefficient and redundant processes, and a shift away from repetitive day-to-day tasks, pave the way to more strategic initiatives while opening the possibility of new revenue streams.

The Fast Track for Digital Network Readiness
The task at hand for IT leaders is putting together a plan to achieve a next-generation digital network. But where to begin? Following a road map can help tailor the best path forward for unique network challenges.

Build a business case.
Before even kicking off the implementation process, develop an overview that focuses on outcomes versus technology. Executives who hold the purse strings for projects like these are going to need to understand how new investments will move the needle and grow the business. Be ready to show clear-cut ROI figures from initial investment to when it’ll pay off — and how. IT leaders can then develop an overarching strategy that outlines the approaches to enhancing the network’s architecture, life cycle management, governance, and compliance, at every stage.

Future-proof the network.
With that, to give organizations a competitive advantage, start with a common network platform that optimizes routing functions across data center switching, core WAN, and service termination. This maximizes the longevity of your IT investments and helps keep pace with the changing face of the digital evolution.

Automation is key.
For the past decade, most networking discussions have focused on lowering total cost of ownership. While cost is important, agility is the new IT currency. As the sheer amount of data and devices traversing the network explodes, it’s simply impossible for humans to manage the various workflows, nodes and devices. Ever played Whack-a-Mole? Organizations, regardless of their size, must craft solutions that move processes and workflows from human-driven automation to event-driven automated infrastructure. Additionally, as technologies mature, the focus must expand to improving everything from design to deployment to automation to management.

Prioritize security.
Threats are everywhere. Every device, interface, and user, represents a potential attack surface, and the notion that threats can be held at the perimeter is outdated. See point above. Security in the Cloud era must be pervasive, with everything contributing to threat identification and policy enforcement and working in conjunction with the network. Virtualization enables network security-as-a-service to keep a more effective handle on stamping out threats.

Stay open.
Network equipment that works only with other proprietary offerings hinders innovation. When the different parts of a network are all interoperable, it unlocks the flexibility required to usher in new business models for operators. While "open" can mean many things — from open standards to open source to open access — solutions should ideally comprise interchangeable components so organizations can create competitive advantages while maintaining freedom
of choice.

Moving through each stage of the network readiness model will ultimately result in igniting faster innovation, lowering security risks, and reducing cost and complexity. A converged, unified, and intelligent network provides multiple services with different quality and cost parameters under one umbrella or core network. Emerging approaches like Juniper Networks’ Cloud-Grade Networking offer a way to create and manage complex network environments in the new Cloud era. Not only will they meet today’s technology demands, but they’re also designed to scale for future needs.

The network, once viewed as the conveyor belt for inter-enterprise and intra-enterprise connectivity, is morphing into the lifeblood of next-generation organizations. Ultimately, driving a digital transformation is a long-term process that requires top-level planning, design, and execution. A strategic understanding of the agility, speed, and scalability, needed to operate in a sophisticated digital marketplace is critical to remain competitive. To succeed, the entire IT organization must be on-board the digital transformation train to keep it moving forward.

Without the network, the digital train goes nowhere.

For more information on Juniper Networks’ Cloud-Grade Networking, please visit

About the Author

Donyel Jones-Williams

Donyel Jones-Williams is Director of Product Marketing, Juniper Networks. He has more than 15 years of experience in networking, and drives business outcomes for customers and partners through a portfolio of advisory, implementation, training, optimization, managed, and support services. For more information, please email [email protected] or visit