The future network is reliant on disruptive technology. Let me already correct myself: The future network is reliant on actually implementing disruptive technology. That means clearing away the smoke and mirrors and passing the baton to the operations team who have the daily responsibility of taking SDN, NFV, SD-WAN and other technologies out of the proof-of-concept lab and putting them to work in the real world. This is what I mean by the term operationalizing disruption.
It seems incongruous but only on the surface: How can we make disruptive technology be no longer disruptive? What it comes down to—when all the vendors have left the negotiating table—is a shift in emphasis to the practical aspects of running a reliable network. The network technology changes happening now are not linear go faster, further, or fatter incremental improvements. We already have methodologies in place to absorb those into today’s operational environments. Migration to disruptive technologies like SDN and NFV, though, is a fundamental shift and revolutionary—and it is uncharted territory.
As a trusted business partner, everything we do is about helping our customers successfully navigate positive change in their networks. Because when it all gets integrated and the new POC starts being implemented, it’s not about the shiny new stuff itself anymore—it’s about being able to control our customer’s end-user’s experience.
When we look at customer needs, each functional area has its own unique perspective. While the planners may be excited about modeling the new technology and adopting it before the competition, the CIO may be a little grimacy because of the need to code up and flow through a lot more connections in an already constrained budget.
But the operations side of the house has a unique challenge because they are entrusted to deliver reliability SLAs on the traditional network to generate the return for their corporation. When it comes to network migrations, it can be a heavy workload to balance upgrades with consistent network performance. That’s why, during the early phases of disruptive change projects, the ops people at the table might be a little skeptical. Some mistake this for being innovation-unfriendly. Far from it. They have a right to be cautious. They’re the ones who deliver value for the entire organization because they’re the ones who keep the network performing continuously and predictably and daily to meet SLAs for banks, hospitals, data centers. Essentially they ensure everyone else gets paid. You can’t blame them for treating the latest disruptive brainchild with more than a few questions, especially if they are told how great it will all be…but nobody really knows how to control it, monitor it, or troubleshoot it.
It’s easy to focus on the cool factor of turning real network things into virtual network things. But the Operations view is undoubtedly that you have to keep these virtual things in the realm of reality, since they have to be reliable and useful in the real world.
So, here is a shout out to those grumpy guys – the unexpected heroes of network reliability and delivering daily on corporate financial performance.
At Fujitsu Network Communications, we recognize that operationalizing disruptive change probably means we have to invent some new science. We are working on defining the right skills, the new processes, and the best tools to help our customers accelerate their adoption of disruptive technology. By doing so, we help our customers bring their future into now.