It’s been well-documented that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation plans. Early in the pandemic, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented that his company has seen two years of digital projects in the first two months of the pandemic. Every business leader I interview now has moved up his/her digital timeline because we now live in a world that’s digital-first.
One of the interesting aspects of digital transformation is that it increases the value of the network. Consider many of the building blocks of digitization–cloud, mobility, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and others. What do these have in common? They are all network-centric so the network plays a key role in the success of digital projects. This has driven a wave of network transformation as IT and business leaders are starting to understand that one can’t run a business on a network that was designed for an analog world.
To get a better understanding of how the network is evolving, I recently interviewed Chris MacFarland, CEO of managed service provider Masergy, in a ZKast thought leadership video, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS.
Highlights of the conversation:
- Masergy is a network-managed service provider that is now 21 years old.
- The company’s mission is to help businesses with their journey to the cloud with network, security and communication services.
- Masergy was founded with a mission of helping large multinational organizations with many locations, communicate between them. This was done using Masergy’s MPLS mesh network.
- The network was designed to support the most demanding applications – voice and video over IP.
- In the early 2000s, Masergy carried more Cisco TelePresence and Polycom RealPresence than any other service provider.
- The ability to handle the large volumes of video traffic gives Masergy a distinct advantage over other service providers whose networks have been cobbled together through acquisitions.
- Masergy uses its private, low-latency, global backbone to deliver SD-WAN and SASE services.
- The SD-WAN and SASE services are being used to connect branch offices but more recently, large volumes of remote workers.
- Initially, most organizations took a tactical approach to remote working and connected workers using VPNs. Masergy saw a 500% increase in VPN usage in the first two weeks of the pandemic. Businesses are now taking a step back and thinking about the hybrid workplace and a strategic way to connect workers.
- This has driven a shift to SASE as it enables security services to be delivered from the cloud, augmenting the current on-premises model.
- Masergy offers a full portfolio of cloud security services but augments it with cloud-managed on-premises equipment for customers that want to maintain that model.
- Interest in SD-WANs is also strong as companies look to evolve the network, but the market is changing. Initially, SD-WANs were driven by early adopters in a “do it yourself” model.
- SD-WANs can be more complex and now that the technology has become mainstream, managed services have become more in demand.
- For SASE and SD-WAN, Masergy has used best of breed partners such as Fortinet, Bitglass and SentinalOne. Each of these is a MagicQuadrant leader. Masergy’s managed services mask the complexity of using multiple vendors.
- Last year Masergy launched its AIOps solution, which automates many of the difficult tasks for network engineers. An example of its capabilities is Masergy can identify the top number of apps by flows and then inform IT as to where they are running, what the best network path to take is and how much bandwidth is being used. This can also help uncover apps bought with shadow IT.
- AIOps is a stepping stone to a fully intent-based network.
De-risking the deployment
Pre-pandemic, digital plans were slow and steady but over the past year, the number of digital projects has exploded. The network is something that historically got very little attention from business leaders, but not so anymore. The network is the foundation of digital transformation but needs to evolve.
Deploying a next-generation network, that is software-defined, secure and automated can be a daunting task. Masergy’s robust set of managed services can help customers transform their networks now but de-risk the deployment.