A new survey by us revealed challenges with the networks used by your customers to support their business applications. Namely, they are a mess, for wholly understandable reasons.
There is a clear opportunity for you to help your customers clean things up and modernise networking capabilities.
To begin with, many customer organisations have networks with kit of varying ages and capability, severely testing their ability to meet the rapidly changing demands for application availability, performance and security against a backdrop of escalating demands for mobile and remote access.
Most organisations surveyed indicated either significant problems or unwanted distractions in many areas that directly affect business operations - for example, poor or unpredictable application performance. Almost as many acknowledged disruptive application outages.
Nearly two out of every three polled recognised that inadequate application delivery control pushes costs skywards. Part of the cost will be due to increasing overheads and IT operations, but perhaps even more may accrue indirectly as a consequence of lost business or staff productivity.
The survey also probed existing application access and security networks. About three quarters of respondents have networks that are disjointed, complex, or hard to manage.
A similar proportion will be using old kit with functionality gaps or that is difficult to operate. These problems are serious enough, but many also cited excessive dependence on manual processes prone to human error - highlighting another opportunity for you to get involved.
Significant numbers of customers state that the pressures on their networks are likely to grow in the near future. In particular, many recognise that changing staff, customer and partner work and access patterns are already adding to security and performance problems.
Advances in internal IT infrastructure are adding to these challenges, especially the rapid uptake of virtualisation to deliver key business services. Many also recognise that the way security is handled needs to change.
There is widespread recognition among IT professionals that securing the perimeter alone is no longer enough to ensure adequate protection. Most respondents favoured moving to a security strategy with a data- or system-centric approach, yet few have managed to make this transition.
Again, channel partners have an opportunity.
One approach to improving security, performance and availability capabilities might be to combine various components into a single device type. Our research shows that only a small minority are using application delivery controller (ADC) solutions that simplify networks.
At the highest level, the mainstream ADC market is quite new, with knowledge and awareness relatively limited. This is especially clear when comparing the potential benefits of the use of ADCs against those experienced with the solution type and those without.
Those with experience are positive about converged or integrated devices, but much commentary from respondents expressed a degree of scepticism or concern about using such solutions.
The networks deployed in many organisations are already under considerable stress and organisations expect to update them, although few have made solid plans. Channel partners might explain how network infrastructures can be modernised - and IT professionals also need help to explain the business case and benefits to budget holders.
The access, performance and security concerns, coupled with a recognition of the high cost of managing existing networks, may be sufficient to trigger action. This is your opportunity to help customers make things better, more secure and ready to handle new working patterns.
Are you ready to sell better networking capabilities that help the business operations of your customers? Our full report explains ways to start conversations with your customers.
Tony Lock is programme director at Freeform Dynamics
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