Why Network Automation is Critical for Digital Transformation

Networks
Why Network Automation is Critical for Digital Transformation
Apstra Blog
Why Network Automation is Critical for Digital Transformation

This article is directed to you, CIO of an organization that made digital transformation your key initiative. My message to you is: you need to automate your network infrastructure operations as a critical part of this digital transformation.

Consider this:

Your network is a critical asset of your digital transformation initiative. Whether it involves IoT, big data, or machine learning, these technologies will only work – and you will only be able to compete – at the speed of your network. If it takes you 6 months to spin up your network, realize that organizations that have invested in operating their networks properly will spin theirs up in a few minutes. If you experience a significant outage, your entire business will suffer, and your competitor who was able to avoid the outage, or fix it quickly through the proper operational model, will take full advantage of your mishap.

It makes no sense to have a digital transformation strategy that automates large portions of the business while the very foundation of that transformation, the network, is run manually. Let’s go over some data to illustrate the urgency of ensuring network operations are transformed as part of your digital transformation.

Networks have been operated in essentially the same way since 1995. That is 22 years ago — the year Intel Pentium Pro was released! Today, 85% of networking teams still use arcane commands to configure each device in your network manually.

As a result, you spend $3-$5 on average for every $1 of CapEx. If you’re a traditional enterprise with legacy systems, you spend a lot more – in some cases, an order of magnitude more!

On average, 80% of those resources are spent on manual operations – wasted I would say, because anything you could automate, but that you haven’t automated is effectively wasted.

So on average, 80% of approximately $4 is wasted. That is $3.20 for every dollar of CapEx. Some organizations waste a lot more.

Gartner estimates that by investing in automating your network operations, you can improve your network agility by 50% to 90%. Assuming an average 70% improvement, and applying it to the average $3.20 waste, that’s a value creation of $2.24 for every $1 of CapEx.

This means that by implementing proper network automation, enterprises can, on average, recoup more than $2 for every $1 that they spend on CapEx!! Think about it. And if you’re a traditional enterprise then you are likely to recoup an order of magnitude more!

It doesn’t end there – in fact it gets a lot worse. Until this point, this analysis has only focused on CapEx, and did not consider the opportunity cost of lack of automation. Here are a few examples:

The cost to your reputation from having an outage; for a company in the S&P 500, this can amount to tens if not 100s of millions of dollars per outage instance;
The revenue you are likely to lose from having an outage; on average $1M per minute or outage – and in some cases a lot more;
The amount of deferred revenue from taking your organization many months to stand up and provision a network required to deploy a new business service or implement a new initiative;
The amount of deferred revenue from taking weeks to make a change to the network that is required to support a new business service;
The lack of competitiveness from your organization’s inability to provision the infrastructure necessary for critical business initiatives;
The opportunity cost associated with the inability for the staff to improve their skills in a manner that’s beneficial to the business.

These costs are harder to measure generally, as they are specific to every business. However, they are massive, and are a lot higher than OpEx Costs. In these areas, 50%-90% improvements are game changing. And given that technology that enables autonomous operations of the network is now available to all organizations, those that don’t leverage those technologies will be unable to compete. If you don’t automate, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage because others have, and more will.

In a newly released report, Gartner emphatically points out that “Digital business initiatives will struggle unless CIOs and business leaders change the way they think about networking.” Gartner states that “by 2022, the percentage of enterprises that deem networking core to their digital initiative success will increase to over 75%”, up from 25% today. In fact, Gartner believes – and we agree – that enterprises should consider networking to be a profit center rather than a cost center. In fact for the first time since the early 2000’s, Gartner urges CIOs to make “Networking a critical strategic infrastructure resource for enabling digital business.”

Your digital initiatives are critical to the bottom line of your company and a comprehensive network operations automation strategy is fundamental to getting you there. The technology is available TODAY. The time to start is NOW.

PFs Key to Supporting QR Code Expansion

Payments
PFs Key to Supporting QR Code Expansion
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
PFs Key to Supporting QR Code Expansion
Payment facilitators have a significant role to play as Visa expands digital transactions into new markets using QR codes.

The bar codes have turned the point-of-sale world on its head in response to conditions in emerging markets, according to Uttam Nayak, SVP, emerging market digital payments, for Visa.

Visa Partners with Uber, Payworks Adds Alipay: News Roundup

Payments
Visa Partners with Uber, Payworks Adds Alipay: News Roundup
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
Visa Partners with Uber, Payworks Adds Alipay: News Roundup
In a roundup of this week’s news, we report on a new partnership for Visa in Africa, more expansion into Europe for Alipay, and a transaction milestone in India, driven largely by mobile payments.

As Visa looks to expand the reach of its network into developing economies, it has tapped another partner with reach in Africa: Uber.

Vantiv and Worldpay Reach Merger Deal

Payments
Vantiv and Worldpay Reach Merger Deal
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
Vantiv and Worldpay Reach Merger Deal
U.S. processor Vantiv and London-based Worldpay have reached agreement on the terms of their proposed merger, the companies announced.

The combination of the two companies will result in a massive global payments powerhouse that will go by the name Worldpay.

Alibaba, Marriott Team to Improve Travel for Chinese Consumers

Payments
Alibaba, Marriott Team to Improve Travel for Chinese Consumers
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
Alibaba, Marriott Team to Improve Travel for Chinese Consumers
Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba has agreed to form a joint venture with Marriott International. The venture combines Marriott’s expertise in hospitality with Alibaba’s in digital retail. Alibaba will manage Marriott’s storefront on its travel services platform.

Consumers will be able to use Alipay at Marriott locations. And in true payment facilitator fashion, the agreement promises to use technology platforms to provide Chinese tourists with an integrated travel experience.

VMWorld FUTURE:NET – Transition to Vendor-Agnostic Intent-Based Networking

Networks
VMWorld FUTURE:NET – Transition to Vendor-Agnostic Intent-Based Networking
Apstra Blog
VMWorld FUTURE:NET – Transition to Vendor-Agnostic Intent-Based Networking

The network is the critical platform that underpins all digital operation and transformation. However, for most companies, it is not operated as a system, but rather as a collection of devices that are manually configured to work together. In fact, 85% of network teams still use the Command Line Interface (CLI) as the primary method to operate their networks. The result is a fragile digital infrastructure that is difficult and dangerous to change, incurs significant OPEX to keep working, and impedes the agility required to respond to business needs as well as incorporate best-of-breed devices without deference to a selected vendor. It is not surprising that many organizations spend an order of magnitude more on operations than on acquiring equipment in the first place.

Many can agree that network automation is the key to address these problems, but there is far less agreement on what this means and how to get there. Is it a collection of PERL scripts? Or maybe a few extensions to the server automation? Or?

In my upcoming talk at VMWorld FUTURE:NET in Las Vegas, I will describe how intent-based networking is the key to making the network an agile yet highly reliable platform with much lower OPEX and CAPEX. Intent raises the level of specification for the network engineer to allow him or her express what is needed, and not how to achieve it. A “network operating system” can then take that intent and instruct (i.e. configure) each device to behave so as to achieve this intent, as well as collect telemetry that continuously validates that this intent is being achieved, or else can notify the operator if the situation cannot be automatically corrected.


See David Cheriton speak at FUTURE:NET in Las Vegas on August 31, 2017.

The network engineer benefits by being able to express the higher-level intent explicitly, rather than having it lost in the complex, error-prone tasks of translating this intent into lower-level CLI configurations for each involved device. The network engineer is also relieved of other low-level tasks such as generating cabling diagrams as well device configurations to achieve the intent. The network engineer is further empowered to have the entire state of the network at their fingertips, and to extend the telemetry in a matter of minutes to capture any parameters of his choosing state that captures all the relationships and that they can query to answer any questions about the network.

Global Payments to Acquire ISV ACTIVE Network

Payments
Global Payments to Acquire ISV ACTIVE Network
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
Global Payments to Acquire ISV ACTIVE Network
Atlanta-based Global Payments Inc. plans to acquire the communities and sports divisions of ISV ACTIVE Network from investor Vista Equity Partners, the companies announced today.

ACTIVE Network provides event and activity management software via its cloud-based platform to more than 36,000 event organizers. It serves the recreation, race, sports, camp and education verticals.

Can India Maintain its Digital Payments Growth?

Payments
Can India Maintain its Digital Payments Growth?
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
Can India Maintain its Digital Payments Growth?
Part of the reason for the Indian government’s unexpected demonetization move in November last year was to help spur the country’s digital economy and reduce the use of cash.

Card and other electronic transactions did increase dramatically in the months after the cash was removed from the system, but now that it has returned, will citizens return to their previous habits?

Separating Intent from Implementation Details

Networks
Separating Intent from Implementation Details
Apstra Blog
Separating Intent from Implementation Details

CiscoLive 2017 in Las Vegas was a great event. I took full advantage of the opportunity to talk to fellow network geeks about different issues they were dealing with in their networks. One recurring question was “How do I define what failure is when monitoring redundancy?” In particular, monitoring inter-data center redundancy was the focus of quite a few of these discussions. These conversations were fascinating, so I thought I’d take a minute to summarize them and discuss how the Apstra Operating System™ (AOS) can help network engineers monitor redundancy in their networks.

Square Doubles Subscription Revenue, Beats Estimates

Payments
Square Doubles Subscription Revenue, Beats Estimates
Payment Facilitator Mobile Business Compliance Security Payments Industry
Square Doubles Subscription Revenue, Beats Estimates
On Wednesday, Square posted earnings that once again beat analyst estimates.

Discussing the quarter’s results in its shareholder letter, the company highlighted the ways the integration of its software with its payments processing results in benefits for its sellers.