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legacy network infrastructureWhen it comes to IT projects, most organizations are fairly ambitious. From migrating workloads to the cloud to launching Internet of Things (IoT) projects, there is no end of IT projects in sight. Often, the one thing holding back those projects, however, is a legacy network infrastructure that wasn’t designed to support emerging application use cases.

A new survey of 1,000 IT decision makers published this week by Riverbed Technology, a provider of network infrastructure, suggests organizations are starting to recognize this fact. The survey finds that the factors driving a need to invest in a variety of next-generation networking technologies include operational agility (57 percent), digital transformation initiatives (56 percent), cloud computing and hybrid networks (55 percent), mobility (51 percent), rising end-user and customer expectations (51 percent), and IoT projects (45 percent).

A full 98 percent of respondents agree that moving to a next-generation network infrastructure is critical to keeping up with the needs of their business and end users. Another 97 percent say their legacy network infrastructure will have difficulty keeping pace with the changing demands of the cloud and hybrid networks.

Legacy network problems

Legacy networks are already creating problems. A total of 93 percent of the global IT decision makers surveyed report that at least once a month their organizations experience cloud-related network issues caused by legacy infrastructure. More than half (58 percent) are experiencing cloud-related network issues a few times a month.

Cost is clearly an issue in terms of solving those issues. Any one of the projects that IT organizations are considering might not justify the cost of a network upgrade on its own. But as IT organizations move to embrace multiple projects, the cost of a network upgrade can now be distributed across more than one project.

Just as importantly, that cost issue creates an opportunity for managed service providers to spread the cost of network upgrades across multi-year contracts, getting customers to commit to long-term service contracts as a result. Milind Bhise, senior director of product marketing for Riverbed, says MSPs have a significant opportunity to close the gap between existing legacy networks and what organizations will require going forward.

Next-generation opportunities

Next-generation networking technologies that currently have the most appeal include software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) and 25G Ethernet routers and switches. Most organizations are just now making the switch to 10G Ethernet. But the price differential between 25G and 10G Ethernet products is already marginal, so in most cases it makes more sense to go straight to 25G Ethernet inside the data center and 50G Ethernet at the core of the network.

The respondents to the Riverbed survey ranked the benefits of upgrading network infrastructure as:

  • More efficient bandwidth utilization (48 percent)
  • Increased productivity (47 percent)
  • Greater opportunities for expansion (46 percent)
  • Greater opportunities to increase revenue (45 percent)
  • Greater agility (44 percent)
  • Digital transformation (44 percent)

It’s clear most IT leaders are starting to realize their existing legacy network is slowing them down on multiple levels.

The challenge and opportunity facing MSPs is to get customers to think more holistically about their networking investments. There’s a natural tendency to assign network upgrade costs to a specific project rather than aggregate them across multiple initiatives. What MSPs need to make clear to customers is that all their strategic IT initiatives for the next 10 years will be tied to the robustness of the underlying network that enables them.

Photo: Creativa Images/Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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