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IT professionals question networks’ readiness to support digital strategies

Cisco’s Global Networking Trends report shows there’s a long way to go for today’s networks to meet the demands of the emerging digital era

One of the current key aims for business has been to get ready for digital transformation, but a survey of the IT professionals tasked with undertaking this change has revealed doubt on the current ability of the networks required to make aspirations into reality and enhance productivity.

According to a topline finding of Cisco’s inaugural Global networking trends report on the state of enterprise networking, taking the views of 2,000 IT leaders and network strategists on the current state of their networks and how they plan to prioritise investment, there’s a long way to go for today’s networks to meet the demands of the emerging digital era.

It showed that while 39% of IT leaders believe their networks are well aligned to meet the demands of digital business, only 19% believe the same is true for network strategies.

The survey also revealed that IT teams were facing what were described as “significant” gaps in the talent and operational capacity at their disposal. A quarter of respondents said an often reactive mindset holds them back from achieving their network objectives.

That said, companies were quickly engaging with the demands of what’s needed to prepare for digital transformation, most notably the need to have networks that could adapt quickly to changing business circumstances and requirements, and supporting an equally diverse range of users, devices and applications.

The survey revealed that software-defined networking (SDN) has already become a mainstay of many systems, and 41% of respondents said they have at least one instance of SDN running on their network.

SDN usage, like artificial intelligence (AI), was also at the heart of a drive to reduce complexity in environments where 5G, security and multi-cloud environments were already impacting upon operational capability.

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AI was found in the study to be helping accelerate the use of intent-based networks, with 50% of network strategists identified it as their top investment priority as they work to deliver “ideal” networks that could meet new and increased demands.

Cisco also noted in the report that implementing AI and integrating it with other IT systems should see NetOps teams be able to reach a state of proactive, rather than reactive, maintenance.

Scott Harrell, senior vice-president and and general manager at Cisco Enterprise Networking, said: “IT teams today are running complex, mission-critical networks that are increasingly capable of providing rich data. But using that data to improve the operations, security, or business impact of the network requires new tools.

“That’s why IT teams are embracing intent-based networking, AI and machine learning – because the business demands it,” he said.

“AI will help IT break the cycle of maintaining the status quo. By embracing predictive analytics and AI-based operations, IT teams will pivot from being consumed with maintaining the status quo to becoming an enabler of new business innovation.”

Read more on Software-defined networking (SDN)

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