How SDN simplifies managing digital experiences

The pace and scale of change that digital technology is enabling means organisations must adapt fast to remain relevant.  We are living in an ever more data-hungry world, with more expectant end-users and increased use of public cloud services that is driving a massive upsurge in internet traffic. This creates new challenges in terms of application performance, security and network management, necessitating a new network approach.  

As networks become more complex, doesn’t it makes sense to simplify management tasks as much as possible? This is where Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) come into their own.

Digital experience defining way forward

SDN and NFV are now crucial to how we power the next generation network, where agility is key and where both the employee and customer experience define how effective a network is. And the key to creating this is in using open, standards-based software to centrally operate an intelligent network. Because this is what enables you to gain end-to-end visibility and control over the digital experiences that end-users now expect.

One IDC report revealed that 95 per cent of line of business respondents said maintaining a positive user experience for business-critical applications is very important, while 85 per cent stated that not doing so has a strong negative impact on the business.

Using SDN/NFV, IT teams are able to introduce services in faster, more automated ways, and also scale up or scale down and adapt network resources for specific tasks at specific times. This means a consistent Quality of Experience (QoE) to end-users anywhere in the world whenever they want it. At the same time enterprises benefit from greater commercial agility. They no longer have to wait for quotes, deliveries of specialist fixed function hardware and invoices. Instead, IT teams can access pricing information instantly and order and provision services in minutes – directly themselves or with support from their service provider. 

Addressing the on-demand imperative

There has been a philosophical shift in IT management to which SDN is also particularly relevant. The on-demand nature of end-users today dictates that networks do not always need to be operating at full capacity and delivering 100 per cent of services 100 per cent of the time. That’s both a waste of resources and a waste of money. So as with the many as-a-service (XaaS) offerings in the digital world, the on-demand model has now extended to the network.

I envisage a world where enterprises will move from buying bandwidth to buying application usage and SLAs to underpin their critical business processes. So our focus will be on keeping customers’ core business processes up and running around the world, because that is critical to the success of their digital transformation efforts.

How do organizations gain this control?

Centralization starts with the right partners. Orange can provide customers with a self-service portal and management platform that lets them have that simplified IT management married to end-to-end visibility and control over application performance and security. IT teams can enjoy centralized control over the deployment of their virtualized network, their budget and the QoE end-users are getting. Virtualized apps mean IT can spin up capacity when it is needed, apply security policies consistently across all network end-points and more – all from one centralized location.

At Orange the strength of our SDN offer is the way we are doing it. It is completely integrated into our quote-to-bill service chain, so it gives enterprises the commercial agility they need to execute digital transformation programs on a global basis.

Additionally, the Orange Easy Go Network self-service portal eliminates significant management overheads for customers, meaning enterprises have flexibility to configure services instantly anywhere in the world, change their requirements at any time with pay-as-you go pricing and automated invoicing. This is appealing to IT teams, and pure-play SD-WAN providers cannot offer this end-to-end control over the commercial and end-user experience on a global basis.

Greater control, more cost-effective

SDN delivers a new network architecture, one where the intelligence of the network is controlled centrally by software, enabling greater automation, agility, flexibility and ultimately cost-effectiveness – and simplicity. For network operators, SDN provides them with a mechanism that lets them quickly and easily configure networks in a centralized manner, something they have long dreamt of.

SDN is also what happens when networks move on, and infrastructure moves into the background. In today’s network there are more things to manage and oversee than ever, so enterprises need the solutions that empower them to do so. The SDN market is forecast to reach a value of $132.9 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 47 per cent. So as the network shows no signs of becoming less complex and complicated to manage, the simplicity of SDN is the way ahead.

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Richard Kitney

Richard has held technical architect and specialist roles within several large service providers including BT Global Services and Colt. Richard is focussed on the hybrid networking story and the transformation towards the digital business age for new and existing Orange customers. Richard holds a Degree in Computer Networking and is a Chartered Engineer, focussed on Networking technologies including SD-WAN, SDN/NFV, SaaS connectivity and has a special interest in application performance solutions in the digital age.

Richard is currently involved in creating sales strategies and engaging with Orange global customers as they define their own ambitions. He acts as a conduit between the customer facing sales and pre-sales functions within Orange and the connectivity business unit where products and services are defined. Closely linked with the global Product Management and marketing organization, he helps to ensure product development meets customer requirements while tracking industry trends and emerging technologies.”