Digital technology and the cloud have transformed the way businesses are run and how they connect with employees, suppliers, partners, and customers—across sites and geographies. However, the corporate WAN is not yet the best it could, and should, be.
This is not just because WAN technology is still evolving, but also because the WAN ecosystem hasn’t been fully understood: knowledge gaps about the Internet and its various tiers have made decision-making difficult.
Leaders may need to review their strategies for the next three to five years if they really want to create the networks that transform their businesses, whilst controlling costs and reducing their carbon footprint. Network providers can be strategic partners in the growth and development of enterprises—if they’re aligned with enterprises’ needs.
The Internet has revolutionized both the way business is done and the way business is run. Connectivity, across multiple sites and territories, has never been easier. But further change is needed to establish networks that really work for businesses. The corporate WAN currently falls short of expectations—for both performance and service.
Digital technology and the cloud have transformed the enterprise network, and data traffic has shifted radically towards the public Internet. The vast majority of participants—90%—say they now use the public Internet as the underlay for some or all of their corporate WAN services, and only a minority say they won’t use it for their wide area network in the future.
The Internet-centric network is now the lifeblood of business and it just has to function effectively— otherwise, growth slows, decisions and transactions are delayed, and work stops.
The simple fact is lost connections cost. More than two thirds (64%) of businesses say a corporate WAN outage of just one hour would have a significant-to-high impact on their businesses, and nearly half (48%) estimate that an outage of 24 hours or more would be catastrophic.
If always-on connectivity is a priority in this brave new world of the public Internet so, too, is security. Enterprises currently prefer private connectivity to reach their cloud providers, with VPN the top choice, preferred by 33% of participants. The public cloud, in contrast, is preferred by just 14%. Private networks look likely to remain part of enterprises’ security strategy for the foreseeable future.
The capacity to cope with growth in the volume of traffic as data proliferates and businesses expand; the ability to re-direct data in the event of spikes in demand or connectivity problems; the ability to find solutions fast when things go wrong. Bandwidth, service flexibility, and customer support are the top three most important considerations when enterprises choose local network partners / ISPs.
They are amplified in the findings for customer satisfaction: only 51% of enterprises rate providers ‘great’ for customer service, suggesting a significant number feel let down. Where service falls short of expectations, failure to resolve simple issues quickly and to provide easy access to information and support are the most serious complaints.
Organizations have welcomed advances in information and communication technology and are ready for the next wave. They face challenges, however, as they try to develop robust networks for the future. Myths and misconceptions make choosing the right network supplier difficult.
Big businesses have fully embraced the Digital Revolution and most have migrated to the cloud. Knowledge of connectivity is good: the majority of enterprises are familiar with the various routes to the cloud.
While market comparisons have to be treated with some caution as the number of survey respondents varies between countries, German business leaders seem particularly switched on about telco/carrier-managed solutions for cloud-connectivity.
Knowledge of the wholesale market and upstream connectivity is good, with more than two thirds overall (69%) saying they’re familiar with the supplier landscape for services such as IP Transit and IP Connect.
What’s more, today’s enterprises are hungry for technologies that will increase automation and transparency and give them more control over their networks. The vast majority—90%—would like network providers to offer more machine-to-machine workflows and automation to improve their services.
And a significant percentage—more than a third (39%)—already use APIs to gain better visibility of their WAN performance, where available.
The network supplier of the future has to put the needs of the customer
at the center of everything it does. This means answering the call for a
sustainable business model and for the human ‘interface’ of customer
service—as well as for the bandwidth, systems, and tools to provide the
best possible network performance and power business growth.
The critical importance of the corporate WAN makes the network provider an important, strategic, partner in the future of an enterprise. But what does the network provider of tomorrow ‘look like’? Which providers will
make the best strategic partners?
The ability to meet the criteria of reliability (in terms both of always-on connectivity and customer service) and cutting-edge innovation will be key. Enterprises will need to look closely at the ecosystem of a prospective
supplier and at its relationship to the Internet backbone—especially in terms of bandwidth and routing efficiency.
And they will need to think about the accessibility of customer service teams—engineers are unlikely to solve problems quickly and provide ‘live’ support if they’re in a different time zone—and whether a supplier is keeping pace with technological change. In addition, two other things will set providers apart.
Enterprises need the bandwidth scalability and network footprint to adapt to changes in traffic volumes as they grow and expand across diverse geographies, bandwidth flexibility during spikes in traffic, optimal levels of data security throughout the ecosystem of providers, low latency that minimizes lag and delay, and a combination of self-provisioning tools and personalized, human-touch service and support.
For too many, however, this is a WAN ideal that is out of reach. Security, service flexibility, supplier performance, and customer service all fall significantly below expectations. There’s a gap between network
need and current network design and performance.
The problem stems partly from a tendency to think of the public Internet as a commodity that doesn’t vary significantly in quality. This misconception means enterprises are not always making informed decisions about their network development strategies and are not always choosing the right partners and providers for them.
Global Tier 1 networks with a strong customer experience ethos and a commitment to sustainability and cutting-edge innovation can bridge the divide between the WAN ideal and the WAN reality. To do so, though,
they may need to close a knowledge gap first—and debunk the myth that public Internet connectivity is always the same. Contact Musato Technologies today to learn more about our innovative ICT solutions.
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