By Walt Westfall, Director of IT Transformation, cStor
Three SDN imperatives for Digital Transformation, plus or minus the gravitational pull of the moon.
Many things come to mind when one thinks of software-defined networks (SDNs). Your brain may conjure up saving money, making things simpler, Azure or Amazon, to name a few. The challenges are aplenty for those in the trenches, which means defining the correct strategy, having the correct talent, and deploying SDN everywhere is critical. What you need to remember, however, is the security strategy too.
While doing it correctly the first time is important to business ROI and evolving to a higher level of Digital Transformation, precisely HOW you do it could mean the difference between you getting the promotion your dreams… or having to find gainful employment elsewhere.
Without getting into the minutia, here are the headlines on the SDN imperatives, and then I’ll elaborate a bit on each.
- Get used to it
- Connect the value
- Experience matters
Get used to it
You’re dealing with abstraction when you’re dealing with a cloud software-defined network (SDN). It’s extensible and inherently flexible. There’s so much goodness in removing complexity, expanding as needs change, and to change around new requirements as needed.
SDN is (or really should be) pervasive in the cloud or on-prem datacenter. Software-defined is in everything these days from cars to phones to IoT to your cloud. The platform is changed with software, however, rather than the complexity and cost of hardware.
What I’m really trying to say… SDN is systemic to cloud networking and it’s here now.
Sorry, but yes… get used to it.
Connect to the business value
IT folks and the manufactures of software and hardware tend to define the value of SDN products and solutions in non-business terms. Special terms like “60% more simplified network management,” “58% hardware consolidation,” and “57% improvement in resource and network visibility” are commonplace. That’s all nice stuff for those on planet geek (and I am one of those), but a balanced investment and the highest ROI are only achieved by connecting these capabilities to the business and clearly defining and then measuring that value.
That’s all nice stuff for those on planet geek (and I am one of those), but a balanced investment and the highest ROI are only achieved by connecting these capabilities to the business, clearly defining and then measuring that value.
Consider a “58% improvement in hardware consolidation,” for example. Sure, it saves $$$, but more fundamental to value is the flexibility and speed to market for creating new applications. The ROI for those kinds of changes should emphasize what impact that will have on new clients acquisition, increases in margins with faster time to market, and the resulting improvements in customer retention, not to mention the increasing relevance to a “next ten market.”
Ok, I get it. Yes. it can be difficult to quantify such impacts. But if you’re brave enough to give it some visibility and cache, define your objectives and how you’ll demonstrate direct business impact, and then position it appropriately with your leadership team, you and your business will be well-served, to say the least. Prepare to have them correct your estimates… probably many times — but likely always for the better.
It really comes down to leveraging technology to gain insight and value out of your IP so you are “creating measurable business value.” Maybe even better said: cool IT speeds and feeds!
Successfully adopting and leveraging SDN, or any other driver of Digital Transformation for that matter, is dependent on quick, strategic, and risk mitigated planning, migration/deployment and operations. Manufacturers, consultants, VARs, and even my mother, all say they can help the client adopt SDN.
Clearly it goes without saying that some truly can help, while some cannot.
In the case of a VAR, you should look for an experienced team with a proven track record, client references, stability and enough expert bench to get the job done. No surprise cStor has been there done that. We’ve gained invaluable experience from every deployment and bring that learning to the next client.
Admittedly, the first few implementations took a lot of very talented people more time than we anticipated to get the job done right and to confirm a ‘really happy client’ in the end. That experience, however, now means each deployment with each client benefits from our collective knowledge-base, making each one faster and more successful than the ones before.
A good way to truly assess someone’s capabilities is to ask them what lessons they learned while earning their stripes. Tip: if you get a ‘deer in the headlights’ look, keep looking.
Experience matters! As does the gravitational pull of the moon.