Platform-driven next gen networking as a service underpins future proof business

Johannesburg, 17 Oct 2023
Advanced network-as-a-service technologies enable lower cost access to innovations.
Advanced network-as-a-service technologies enable lower cost access to innovations.

Next generation networking that is AI driven and fully automated can address key business challenges, improving network uptime and business productivity. 

This is according to speakers at a high-level CIO round table hosted by ITWeb, Cisco and Dimension Data, a leading local IT infrastructure and services company, and subsidiary of global powerhouse NTT Ltd., in Johannesburg last week.

“NTT’s recent Global Network Survey indicated that the vast majority of organisations recognise the network as the backbone of their digital transformation and critical for business growth,” said Prashil Gareeb, VP of Managed Network and Collaboration Services at Dimension Data (NTT). 

 “Organisations are under pressure to digitally transform and support hybrid workforces. Major multinationals are seeking to grow their footprints and expand into Africa. However, many organisations are held back by ageing infrastructure approaching the last stages of support. They are also challenged by an explosion of fragmented infrastructure, having to manage multiple vendors and services, load shedding, and a lack of network infrastructure maturity. They need a strong, stable network environment,” he said.

Many organisations are held back by ageing infrastructure approaching the last stages of support.

Prashil Gareeb, Dimension Data (NTT)

“Organisations need the support of someone with reach across infrastructure services, vendors, orchestration and the commodity layer, with the expertise to offer the whole stack as a service to assure stable connectivity."

Aadil Hassim, Enterprise Networking Specialist, MEA at Cisco, said: "We see network-as-a-service becoming more and more relevant. The rapid evolution of technology means you can’t deploy capex-based solutions now.”

Gareeb outlined Dimension Data’s evolution to become the EMEA regional unit of newly incorporated global services company NTT Data Inc. as it focuses on platform driven managed network services. “We have become a trusted network advisor and managed services provider in South Africa. Our network-as-a-service solutions allow us to be a partner, rather than just a vendor. We assess where our customers are on their transformation journeys, understanding their existing investments and roadmaps, and helping them transform, with outcomes-based SLAs.

“We have a vision to provide platform-driven, autonomous network operations that proactively manage the network, improving network quality, reducing incidents and supporting organisations’ business strategies,” he said.

“As an organisation, Dimension Data (NTT) has been through a lot of changes, [we have] reset ourselves, and we have got our entire ecosystem ready to support South African customers as they transform their networks and their businesses,” he added.

Stuart Conlan, Director: Client Partners at Dimension Data, added: “With our network-as-a-service offerings, we don’t just run an existing network – we create the architecture to address challenges and transform the network over time. The network won’t perform optimally if the plumbing isn’t sound. We take a consultative and advisory approach, working to understand their environment, risks and budget to enable a world class network experience.”

The network won’t perform optimally if the plumbing isn’t sound.

Stuart Conlan, Dimension Data.

Highlighting NTT’s SPEKTRA platform, Paul Mende, Director of Managed Networking at Dimension Data (NTT), said SPEKTRA (Sentient Platform for Network Transformation) delivered a unified portal, integrated service centre, with AI-enabled predictive analytics and automation. SPEKTRA, announced in May this year, is in line with NTT’s vision for fully autonomous networks.

“AI takes on most network events, reducing the need for human intervention and increasing uptime. SPEKTRA features include smart clustering, classification and root cause analysis, and persistent issue detection,” he said.

Mende noted that SPEKTRA achieves a reduction of up to 90% in the number of events converted to incidents, meaning IT estate noise is significantly reduced.

SPEKTRA-powered managed networking or network-as-a-service is available on a subscription or consumption model. “Dimension Data (NTT)’s network-as-a-service offerings for South Africa are available as a trusted advisor offering, a ‘tech and attach’ option, managed services provider service, or as a NAAS partner,” Mende said.

Elaborating on the Dimension Data (NTT) partnership with Cisco, Hassim explained that the partnership with NTT supports Cisco’s global scale. “We listen and learn from customers through partners such as Dimension Data (NTT), gaining visibility into our customer base and their needs. We want to meet customers where they are.”

He added that next generation network-as-a-service with AI not only enables digital transformation and business growth, but also supports sustainability. “Advanced network-as-a-service technologies enable lower cost access to innovations like automatic control of sites, devices and systems,” he said. He noted that organisations can now put lights and devices to sleep after hours, or use motion sensors to switch on lights and cooling only when they are needed, which contributes to cost savings and sustainability.