The evolution of network infrastructure in a brave new world
The ‘new normal’ has supplanted digital transformation as the phrase of choice in business today. Of course, this is not without its merits, considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the operating environment. Relying on the network infrastructure of a pre-lockdown world is no longer good enough. Companies need to become more responsive to unanticipated future requirements as a new technology landscape emerges.
“Few could have predicted just how intense the demand on network infrastructure would be during times of lockdown. The amount of people working remotely, has put the focus on the likes of video conferencing, collaborating on large documents, accessing predictive analytics from home, and so on. Without the right infrastructure in place, networks get congested, applications run slowly, video is choppy, and users get frustrated. So, being able to effectively communicate and collaborate in real-time irrespective of the location, has become one of the most important business priorities today,” says James Ndegwa, Business Manager at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa.
Examining the critical
That is why the likes of Cisco’s portfolio for Critical Network Infrastructure is invaluable to organisations across Africa. It centres on the ability to control the performance of the networking, supporting the continuity of operations with scalable, secure, automated, and resilient solutions for a private networking environment.
“Even though some might think the road ahead lies in ripping and replacing the infrastructure that has been put in place already, it is rather about supplementing it with innovations. Using the right partner means not reinventing the wheel but modernising the network with integrated solutions that securely connect to data centres and transports business data in a compliant manner. Considering the complexity of the myriad of markets in Africa, having such a reliable and stable offering that scales according to networking traffic, becomes a differentiator.”
An example of how this innovation can deliver value is the use of software intelligence (such as segment routing) to have more control over network traffic by adapting to the unpredictability of the issues that could potentially negatively impact performance. Part of this is the willingness to be flexible when it comes to infrastructure. Even though it might seem counter-intuitive to be agile around such a cornerstone of the business, a software-driven environment can add immeasurable value to empowering an organisation to reach its objectives in these difficult times.
Reinventing the traditional
“Despite the challenges (both legacy and new) of having operations across Africa, there are limitless opportunities to grow business together. But this cannot be done without having trust in the critical network infrastructure that must transport data and connect employees. This trust extends as much to the reliability of the delivery mechanism as it does to the actual security of the environment. Features such as runtime defence, encrypted transport, and DDoS protection are a requisite especially with so many employees accessing the corporate back-end from home,” adds James.
The days of having such cyber protection as afterthoughts are long gone. The uncertainty of business due to the pandemic means security must be built into all layers of the network infrastructure. Threat actors can easily spoof hardware and software. This is why defence extends beyond the superficial and must permeate throughout the network environment.
“Understanding the impact this approach will have on a business is imperative for growth as companies head into the new normal. The old way of doing things need to be supplanted by a more agile approach bringing value to the business from an infrastructural level,” concludes James.