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The foundation of a 21st century business is cloud architecture

Mike Kelley
A network without centralized management is as a chaotic as an airport without an air traffic control center.
By thowardqz
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Expansion. At some point every successful business will have to face down the challenges of growth. These are desirable challenges, to be sure: the magnified scope of a fledgling company is a validation of the ideas that first inspired the enterprise. But for any firm, growth means adjusting to a whole new set of tests. It means running a whole new kind of business.

True to the point of cliché, today’s transnational marketplace ensures that expansion plans have to be able to scale to a global audience. Growing businesses need to introduce outlets along the supply chain in a variety of geographies and with a range of purposes—manufacturing plants, distribution operations, and points of sale, to name a few. That expanded geographic footprint means expanding a company’s wide area network (WAN), which, unfortunately, can increase the threat of digital attacks.

The global economic impact of cybercrime compared against other criminal activity.

No one said competing for a share of the world’s economy would be easy, particularly in this hyper-digital age. Ever-evolving threats to network integrity only compound the challenges of growth. Moreover, with more companies sifting through big data on network-accessed software applications—or, Software as a Service (SaaS)—the success of an enterprise is increasingly dependent on connectivity and speed. It is critical that its branches, mobile employees, and center of operations are able to connect on a safe network.

In the past, that has meant responding to threats or managing network traffic flow with manual repairs and localized configurations. But imagine mending a piecemeal framework with countless devices spread around the globe—it’s like patching leaks across a sprawling network of pipes. Local solutions lead to inconsistent fixes and complicate a universal approach to supervision. This kind of network is expensive, tedious, and inefficient.

Enter the cloud era. Companies are looking to rebuild their architecture and many are looking to software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) because of their promise of greater ease, flexibility, and savings. Rather than piecing together physical equipment across disparate locations, SDN allows for the central management and control of network services through software, not hardware. By decoupling the control of applications and data units from physical servers it can optimize and virtualize those services with software. With its Instant Self-Service Activation model, NTT Communications offers enterprises the industry’s first and most comprehensive cloud-networking SDN product.

Imagine managing air traffic at a busy airport. Instead of sending a host of air traffic controllers to guide every airplane to their appropriate takeoff or landing strip, the airport establishes an air traffic control center and mounts sensors on each airplane to monitor their movements. Controlling airplane traffic from a central location is a much more effective and intelligent use of resources.

If it is difficult to follow the conceptual appeal, that’s understandable. It can be challenging for large, traditional companies to see the benefit in technology spending; widespread adoption of SDN will require a collective leap of faith. Still, the excitement about the possibilities of virtualization remains high: a recent survey of IT decision makers found that many executives didn’t fully understand the technology but were preparing to switch to it.

IT Decision-Makers are excited about the possibilities of SDN & NFV, even if they don’t fully understand how they function.

Those executives recognize that a few factors—globalization, a need for adaptive network security, increased employee mobility, and the transition to SaaS—are redefining the business IT environment. It’s true that big service providers have long offered proprietary solutions. And those worked for enterprises at a time when software was hosted on-site and network speed requirements were constant. But now, with applications spread across cloud-hosted data centers and mass information needs demanding a more responsive network, those solutions are less useful.

The year of 2015 is poised to be a big one for SDN. Forward-looking telecoms like NTT Communications have positioned themselves as first-movers in this space, moving away from offering full-service only products to hybrid products like self-service or pay-per-use virtualization software. These kinds of products will allow nascent companies flexibility when centralizing network functions like security protocols, routing, firewalls, remote access, or application accelerators. The possibility of implementation on commodity hardware—in other words, a non-proprietary, or out-of-the-box computer—will make hardware affordable and easy to obtain.

Those businesses shrewd enough to expand in today’s rapidly innovating global market have seen what the cloud can do for their data platforms. Early adopters of SDN and NFV just might see themselves at the forefront of next-generation network operations.

Read more about how NTT Communications can help to build a secure, scalable Global ICT solution for your company here.

This article was produced on behalf of NTT Communications by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

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