If you thought today’s IT teams exist merely to make sure that the organization’s applications are delivered to users with sufficient capacity, security, and availability, you would be wrong, but you might be forgiven. After all, that is what IT did for many years. But the times, as they say, they are a-changin’.1
With companies digitizing all their functions from procurement, production, inventory control, marketing, and sales to customer experience, IT and the underlying network has a much bigger role in driving the organization’s top-line growth as well as gaining bottom-line efficiencies.
Advanced networking through intent-based networks
In a recently published report, analyst firm IDC determined that by adopting “advanced networking” IT can produce real business gains across many industries. In fact, by interviewing organizations with advanced networks, IDC found that they were realizing on average a total value of $204,600 per 100 users per year.
So, what is advanced networking? IDC defines it as an intent-based networking (IBN) framework built atop principles of software-defined networking (SDN). An IBN based network aligns itself continually with business objectives by incorporating the four basic principles of policy, automation, verification, and visibility-based security. These tenets make the network agile and respond quickly to business and user needs.
How does an intent-based network help the business? To understand this, consider for a moment, a day-in-life of some people the network touches.
Intent-based networking in every-day life
When Mary, the network administrator, is called upon to get a new office building network-ready for new employees, she is quickly able to use the network’s automation functions to add and configure switches, routers, and Wi-Fi infrastructure within minutes. The intelligent network uses advanced verification through analytics to let her know when there is a potential issue and how to fix it without undertaking extensive debugging steps. Taking advantage of the security constructs that are built-in, Mary defines security policies and the network automatically segments user and IoT devices by their role, helping reduce risk to the organization.
Joe, the product developer, never experiences downtime thanks to the quick problem identification and resolution capabilities of the network. And because the network integrates with security applications, he is kept safe from malware, phishing emails, and infected files. All data, code, and applications he uses from the cloud and data centers is delivered to him with the right QoS across the SD-WAN that doesn’t slow him down.
Alice, the customer, is all praises for the company since she has quick and uninterrupted access to the company’s portal, improving her online experience. The network’s location analytics improves her in-store experience. Unbeknown to Alice, thanks to data center and cloud networking, workloads are optimally balanced across servers which further improves her satisfaction and makes her a loyal customer.
It is, therefore, not hard to see that IBN significantly influences both the organization’s top and bottom lines. According to the IDC Infobrief, IBN brings six major quantifiable benefits.
1. Reduce time to market
Businesses need to be able to respond quickly to changing demands and need their IT organizations to be agile and flexible to meet the challenge. Intent-based networking, by its very design, is built to quickly adapt the network to new requirements – be it increasing capacity to handle workloads, augmenting bandwidth to preserve quality of experience, or expanding Wi-Fi coverage for a large event.
The IDC Infobrief observes that advanced networking can support
26% more business applications given the same infrastructure.2
2. Improve customer experience
An agile and responsive network enables the timely delivery of new functionality to customers in the form of new applications, features, and services. Customers need the organization’s touchpoints such as their webpages and portals, to be responsive. Built-in security in intent-based networking keeps their personal and confidential data safe from prying eyes.
One retail organization in the IDC Infobrief said that, by adopting advanced networking, they
improved the in-store experience, which resulted in an increase in revenue of up to 50%.2
3. Deliver innovative solutions
Organizations that can depend on the robustness and security that their intent-based networks provide have more freedom to bring innovative solutions to market. They can embrace digital transformation unlocking new services across geographical markets more efficiently and securely. They can cross-link intelligence gathered from multiple sources to enhance the richness of their offerings.
According to the IDC Infobrief, organizations experienced a 10% increase
in gross revenues after adopting advanced networking.2
4. Reduce cost of operations
Intent-based networking can help you run your operations more efficiently. You can more easily leverage cloud-based services, move from a CapEx to an OpEx model, and minimize operational and audit risks. With the inherent security, organizations are even unifying their previously disparate networks under one administrative domain.
The IDC Infobrief reported a 6% reduction in hardware requirements for organizations
using advanced networks saving $269,000 per organization per year.2
5. Leverage operational data
An intent-based network gathers and analyzes data collected from various network devices to understand how the network is performing. A thorough analysis and correlation between all devices and services provides a holistic view of the entire network making it easy to spot potential errors, bottlenecks, and abnormal deviations. An advanced network can then suggest or even take the necessary steps to fix these.
The IDC Infobrief estimates that advanced networking reduces unplanned outages by 50%.2
6. Increase employee productivity
Intent-based networks make the network robust and highly available, take corrective actions, and remove barriers for a smooth and efficient workplace. They enable improved business continuity by quickly provisioning new sites or reconfiguring networks to help the organization overcome disruptions and improve productivity.
The IDC Infobrief notes that advanced networking saves organizations
$3.25M per year on average by reducing lost productive time by 60%.2
The bottom line
By this point, you are probably thinking, “Intent-based networking is going to cost me a fortune!” Again, you might be forgiven. In fact, IDC concludes that such networks are more efficient and more cost-effective. They require fewer resources to manage and support, free up time of highly qualified network engineers, and enable more efficient use of network hardware.2
Don’t just take our word for it, read the IDC Infobrief yourself, The Quantifiable Value of Advanced Networking (sponsored by Cisco), and learn about these and other benefits of intent-based networking.
Also read about Cisco advanced, intent-based networking solutions for the campus, WAN, data center and clouds.
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 “The Times They Are A-Changin’” – Bob Dylan, 1964
 IDC Infobrief, sponsored by Cisco, The Quantifiable Value of Advanced Networking, February 2020
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