IDC Digital White Paper Summary - November 2019

Network Modernization:
Essential for Digital Transformation and Multicloud

White Paper published by:
Sponsored by: IBM

Brad Casemore

Network modernization: The secret to successful digital transformation cloud adoption

Cloud drives the need for network modernization

Intelligent network automaton & programmability - the basis of infrastructure agility

Enterprises across industries and geographies are digitizing to achieve greater agility, operational efficiencies, and competitive advantage. Every organization is becoming more like a technology company as digital experiences and digital proficiency grow in importance.

Enterprises are also increasingly adopting multicloud within the framework of their DX strategies.

Cloud, as both a destination for workloads and a set of highly efficient operating practices, provides a foundation for enterprise agility and flexibility, but it also challenges the network to support and deliver distributed applications and data, which are of unprecedented importance and value in the context of digital transformation. This implies that as the application landscape has been redefined by cloud and multicloud, the network must adapt architecturally and operationally.


Network modernization and transformation, from the datacenter to the wide area network (WAN) and the branch, is a necessary and integral facet of broader enterprise efforts to comprehensive modernize IT infrastructure and processes in service to digital transformation (DX).

The network, after all, is the backbone and nervous system that connects the various distributed datacenters – on-premises, at co-location facilities, IaaS public clouds, and SaaS services – to the network edge, which includes employees at branch offices and customers and partners worldwide.

In this IDC White Paper, we examine why extensive network transformation must accompany digital transformation and explores how IBM seeks to help enterprises address changing architectural and operational requirements from the multicloud datacenter network to the WAN.

47% of IT teams voiced the business demand for more IT agility and speed, and about 44% cited modernization and re-platforming, and 39% referenced the requirement for a datacenter upgrade, expansion, or replacement.

Redrawing the network boundaries across LAN, WAN, DC

Implications for Datacenter & WAN networks

In the prior client-server era, the datacenter network was exclusively on-premises, but multicloud means that the datacenter (and the network that supports it) becomes inherently distributed and more complex to provision and manage. Even in the on-premises datacenter, in the context of relentless digital transformation, the network must become more agile, automated, flexible, programmable, and open. In other words, cloud-like network infrastructure and operational models apply everywhere, not just in public clouds.

Cloud-native applications, based on containers and microservices, further complicate the picture and drive a need for modernization of network infrastructure.

The rise of hybrid IT and multicloud also has significant implications for the WAN and the branch. That’s because WAN requirements, technical and operational, have been just as redefined by SaaS and IaaS applications as have those of the distributed datacenter.

Enterprises have indicated that security, networking, and data management were their top challenges in container deployments.

MultiCloud and Software defined networking – edge to core

In the datacenter, SDN has emerged as an architectural approach to datacenter networking in the cloud era. SDN essentially is an architectural model that can help better align network infrastructure with the needs of application workloads through automated (more agile) provisioning; programmatic network management; application-oriented, network-wide visibility; and direct integration with cloud orchestration platforms.

Further, SD-WAN has emerged as a solution for modern enterprises dependent on the cloud and on a workforce requiring “anytime, anywhere” application access.

Borrowing from the principles of software-defined networking (SDN) in the datacenter, SD-WAN decouples the application from underlying network transports, providing the flexibility to run any application over any transport or combination of transports, which can include MPLS, broadband internet, and 4G/5G.

Consequently, SD-WAN is about WAN transformation for the cloud era, helping ensure that branch offices and remote sites are configured consistently to connect users to applications while also assuring security and optimizing network and application performance and lowering complexity and costs.

35% of the enterprises feel cloud computing, including SaaS and IaaS has the greatest impact on their WAN and datacenter operations and strategy

AI Supported Networks & Open, Standard based technologies

In the cloud era, enterprises also perceive considerable value in having AI-enabled network automation. In IDC’s Directions, IT Strategy and AI Adoption, conducted earlier this year, we found that optimizing and enhancing application availability and performance and user experience was cited as one of the most important aspects of an AI-enabled network-automation solution.

Secret to successful Network Modernization

From the previous sections we gather that Network modernization is essential to enterprise success in the cloud era . So what’s the secret to successful network modernization?

Many organizations don’t know where to begin as they seek to modernize their networks for DX and cloud and find themselves daunted by the breadth and depth of the challenge.

Following a consultative approach can be the answer – this involves working with a partner for development of a strategy for the future network, including identification of any gaps that might inhibit SDN deployment, determining overall automation needs, defining an orchestration strategy, and developing a roadmap.

A trusted partner such as IBM can help businesses understand how their networks can be modernized within the bounds of existing technology investments and the skill sets of existing IT and network personnel.

IBM’s services portfolio for software-defined network modernization enables enterprises to pursue network transformation that aligns with their broader IT and digital-transformation initiatives. Its consultative approach can assist customers in building modernized, intelligent networks that offer the agility, flexibility, programmability, elastic scalability, and security required to support distributed applications and workloads in a multicloud world.

Concluding, digital transformation and the enterprise embrace of multicloud are redrawing the boundaries of the datacenter, and consequently redefining what’s required of both datacenter networks and WANs.

Network Modernization: Essential for Digital Transformation and Multicloud

We invite you to read through the entire IDC White Paper, sponsored by IBM, titled "Network Modernization: Essential for Digital Transformation and Multicloud". You will hear more from IDC as well as learn how IBM services can transform your enterprise connectivity to make it future ready.

Download the White Paper

About IDC

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