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June 30, 2017
Cloud Journey: What's wrong with "Do It Yourself?" Your network in a cloud-based world
By: Charles Nebolsky

In their journey to cloud, companies experience many obstacles, the biggest one being they often don’t think about their network. “We’ve already got a network and it works fine.” But the reality is, it won’t.

Most companies have proprietary and aging network equipment that wasn’t architected for today’s cloud-based world. Their systems were built for the old world of client-servers—with desktops hard-wired into the wall and connected to a central data center. They’re simply incapable of taking advantage of what the cloud offers.

This is a huge problem when you consider the scale of what companies today must manage.

Global 2000 companies have thousands of sites in as many as 70 different countries, as well as upwards of 50 different contracts for network-related equipment and services. It’s a giant spider web that’s poorly-connected, outdated and contractually complex. Making matters worse, companies have many different buying centers around the world making network decisions in isolation, and they typically lack standards for network equipment and support models. All these challenges collide with a new world of increasing bandwidth demand, related to ever-more cloud usage across an increasingly global business footprint. Keeping up with these business needs is an ever-escalating challenge.

Keeping up with business demands—that’s why companies increasingly need help with their network.

Organizations using a combination of solutions from network providers and carriers can design a next-generation network that supports a company’s journey to cloud and the development of digital services—with the requisite performance, price and security. They can take advantage of software defined networking to unlock massive increases in bandwidth all while saving money. They can automate manual network processes to become incredibly agile and responsive to setting up new business services. They can improve end-to-end performance between wireless users in their offices and on the go, to their data centers and out to the cloud. And most importantly, they can lock down the security of the entire network, even out to the cloud, using policies and tools that drive a substantial reduction in risks.

Four key things to look for when getting help:

  1. Additional resources dedicated to designing and implementing the new network. IT is constantly fighting fires and troubleshooting problems and outages, leaving precious little time to concentrate on designing the future. A global team can provide the arms, legs and brains you need so you can focus on aligning IT to the business.

  2. The right skills and expertise to boost your organization’s in-house talent. The typical IT organization is heavy on the skills needed to maintain legacy network technologies, but light on what’s needed in a cloud-centric world, such as skills in latest infrastructure coding/scripting techniques used by Software Defined Network architectures. An experienced provider has implemented next-generation networks countless times and knows what it takes to get it done.

  3. A vast array of capabilities and assets that can speed the transition to a new network architecture. A provider that has implemented networks that are proven to work in various industries and at scale will have tools, accelerators and “factories” to manage the scale and complexity of the transition and automate a lot of the process and workflows.

  4. Relationships across IT, the business and the C-suite to get alignment. An established provider can help an organization get alignment across the different parts of the business that need to be connected for a successful network initiative. They can connect typically isolated infrastructure teams with the business, and get the C-suite excited about and engaged with a program that, because of its size, won’t succeed without the C-suite’s backing.

Here’s how a few companies have benefited from Accenture’s help.

Imagine what’s involved in rolling out—to 2,000 sites and the back-end corporate headquarters—all-new network equipment, architecture, designs and service. It’s far from a trivial task. Typically, we find there are about 200 steps required to revamp each site. Multiply 200 steps by 2,000 sites, and you’ve got 400,000 steps to deal with. That’s what one major bank recently faced. Working closely with the bank’s team, we rolled out a new standardized architecture, tweaked regionally to the business needs, to those 2,000 sites in dozens of countries in less than two years. In doing so, we delivered not only vastly improved network performance, but also significant cost savings.

In a pharmaceutical company, we similarly deployed new network infrastructure to boost innovation and collaboration across the business while reducing network costs. As part of the program, Accenture first assumed responsibility for running the companies’ existing legacy networks, and while doing so, began implementing a plan to replace the legacy with the new infrastructure. Accenture was able to handle all the firefighting required to keep the old network running while teaming with our clients’ engineers to finalize and roll out the new network designs.

Yesterday’s network is the biggest constraint to using the cloud. The time is now to replace it.

You can’t take advantage of all the cloud services and cloud-based collaboration opportunities without getting the network right. Companies that have tried have ended up with huge problems with security and firewalls, as well as unacceptable network bandwidth and performance. A cloud-based world really does require a new network architecture—and we can help you build it.

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