Authored by: Tan Boon Huat, SVP of Operations and Customer Experience, SPTel
Organisations are increasingly committed to transforming their business through digitalisation and automation. It is crucial to find smarter ways to manage cost and ensure business growth. For example, the automation of labour-intensive roles minimises human error and permits better allocation of staff to more strategic tasks. IoT adoption will be critical and the question to ask will be how well can your IoT devices perform to enable real-time decision making. This will be especially important for use cases such as autonomous vehicles or facial recognition.
Smarter solutions are needed to handle the challenges of dealing with a hybrid workforce.
Managing segregated teams that are working either in remote locations or from home will test the capability of the network to handle bandwidth-heavy applications such as video conferencing as well as the ability of the IT managers to extend the same corporate control and security to these new home/remote “branch offices”. Coupled with increased online collaboration and the growing cyber threat to businesses switching to remote or hybrid working, ICT inadequacy puts businesses at risk of downtime and security breaches.
Increasingly, there is a demand for "everything-as-a-service" modes of operation, especially as businesses embark on digitalisation plans. "As-a-service" models allow companies to test digital solutions first, keeping the initial costs low. In the long term, "as-a-service" models reduce the hassle of managing upgrades and technology in-house and provide scalability as the company grows.
The need for change puts the spotlight on the corporate network
New network capabilities are essential to address these challenges, in order to manage change and remain competitive. Organisations need to question if their network can deliver against three essential requirements:
Ultra-low latency is crucial especially when it comes to automation, IoT deployment and smart initiatives.
It is not enough for the network backhaul alone to perform at an optimum level. In order to achieve the real-time responsiveness promised by connected IoT sensors and devices, it needs to be paired with responsive computing. Users may consider Edge Cloud in these cases, as its performance is close to that of an on-premise solution, but has the advantage of the scalability of cloud.
B.Security and reliability
Business continuity, especially with the increasing number of applications that rely on connectivity, demands a defendable network that can protect businesses from the ground up on two fronts: physical and virtual.
From the physical perspective, it’s about the diversity, resiliency and reliability of the fibre network. Unique fibre pathways as well as secure facilities for the fibre termination points should be key factors to minimise down time from outside tampering.
From the virtual point of view, it’s about the inherent cyber security capabilities of the network. Is it a clean pipe network that can proactively alert the organisation to cyber threats, for example. Such services can help businesses react more quickly to mitigate the effects of a breach and maintain uptime for digital services.
Once you have established these key pillars of security for your business network, the question will then become, how can this secure corporate network be further extended to my remote workers. Organisations should start conversations with their ICT providers on what are the available solutions to start controlling and operating work from home locations like branch offices to improve security.
C. Flexibility and Cost Savings
A flexible network that can deliver “everything-as-a-Service” capabilities can be optimised for cost efficiency to unlock budgets, which can be redirected to innovation. It will help improve total cost of ownership (TCO) and overall performance through on-demand services and flexible contracts that reduce the commitment period.
On demand services mean the ability to scale as needed, so you only pay for what you need, when you need it, reducing resource wastage and providing an outlet for organisations to implement digitalisation “trials” without hefty up front investment. This is equally true for IoT deployment as well, a key growth area that many are reluctant to start on because of the costs associated with building a platform, hardware and IoT gateway deployment.
Deploying Digital Network Services is the answer
To deliver versatile, on-demand services including bandwidth and network security, while enabling edge computing and storage as well as IoT implementation, requires a cloud-like network.
A flexible and responsive digital network makes businesses more agile - by digitalising the order and provisioning process, users enjoy faster turnaround times with appointment setting and resource checking completed automatically. Changes, such as re-configuring bandwidth, can be completed in hours, instead of days, improving speed to market and reducing the need to oversize networks.
Modern network providers such as SPTel have digitalised their service offerings with Software Defined Networking (SDN) to support the speed and agility the modern business needs. By going a step further and integrating SDN with a front-end management dashboard, customers will have greater visibility over network utility and cyber security readiness. When combining this with SDWAN, IT managers can control and programme the network and its protocols remotely, even for employees working on their home networks. This extends the secure corporate network environment to the home, removes the need for additional VPNs and improves the productivity of segregated teams.
To support business continuity, SPTel’s SDN also has Artificial Intelligence (AI) monitoring the network to auto-reroute traffic and self-heal once disruptions are detected. It also comes with in-built DDoS detection which provides real-time alerts so that users can subscribe to DDoS mitigation when needed. Other just-in-time network protection services include virtual firewall and virtual web applications firewall.
This further enhances the reliability of their core network that uses unique fibre pathways, physically separate from incumbents, for true network diversity.
On the IoT front, SPTel delivers a network latency of less than s1ms island wide and has access to pervasive edge computing hubs around the island. IoT solutions will benefit from faster responsiveness by being able to compute closer to the data and business owners will enjoy improved total cost of ownership without having to invest heavily in on-premise servers. Scaling across multiple sites can be as simple as turning on the next available virtual edge location.
The changing business landscape and evolving user demands have put a tremendous strain on the enterprise network, and the move from a traditional to a digital network is imperative. Organisations need to rethink the way they deploy their enterprise networks and regain control over them. An SDN paired with an intelligent customer dashboard that provides network insights and allows for responsive programmability is essential in the race towards digitalisation.