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Weaving the X-factor into the network fabric

Reassessing network design has become imperative in ensuring the security and connectivity of the workforce, suggests Kyle Stanton, Go-to-market Executive: Intelligent Infrastructure at Dimension Data.

Johannesburg, 02 Dec 2021
Read time 4min 20sec

The network fabric. This terminology is easily confused, and often forgotten, in the race to build connectivity platforms that are capable of supporting and managing the most demanding software-defined, high-performance hybrid environments in the era of hybrid working. The network fabric has gained traction because it is defined by the interconnected threads of connectivity that are designed for resilience and optimised data transfer throughout the fabric of the organisation. It's the ability to connect, collaborate and communicate across platforms and people, regardless of location or unique business complication. It is the new metric against which business success is measured in the hybrid world and in the evolving workplace.

Defining the X-factor

The network of today needs to drive greater agility, enhanced security and governance, immersive workplace experiences and expert management to ensure a superior experience is delivered. The ability to scale, orchestrate, automate and embed visibility across the entire infrastructure fabric to ensure that the X-factors of customer experiences (CX) and employee experiences (EX) are met. Because network fabric design fundamentally impacts both CX and EX. It is made up of the tools that create visibility, scalability, orchestration and automation across this network infrastructure and the processes that ensure that applications and systems fit within the corporate ecosystem and come together as a cohesive whole – a network fabric. It's the people, the tools and the processes.

Network technology is at the heart of accelerated workplace transformation. It's in the collaboration platforms that embed business continuity and business outcomes into remote and hybrid working scenarios. It's in the high-performing applications and in security and in the relentless evolution of the network and its capabilities. Today, as companies turn inwards in a bid to streamline and refine their investments over the past two years, the network is taking centre stage as a critical success factor. It needs to be optimised and redesigned to ensure it is capable of handling the challenges inherent in hybrid workforces and in engaging with globally dispersed customers and employees.

A safe return to work means 'stepping into the edge'

So why has the network fabric become such a hot commodity in 2021? The answer lies in the change of the workforce and the demand placed for a more immersive experience, bleeding on the edge.

Edge computing has become more mainstream as requirements for low latency and higher bandwidth grow due to altering organisation operating models, where many are adopting either full remote or hybrid strategies going forward. Few are returning to the comprehensively traditional ways of working. This has meant that remote workers, hybrid IT connectivity solutions, robust security and edge and cloud computing are sitting at the forefront of network conversations.

Companies want to know how they can build networks that are capable of evolving and growing with the business, adjusting to the changing needs of customers and employees. They want networks that are frictionless in their service delivery, and sticky in their customer retention capabilities.

What's needed is agility, transformation and automation delivered through an intelligent secure cloud-network fabric that delivers information from anywhere, and on any device. A network that can handle the move to the edge, that can leverage SD-WAN, and that provides function virtualisation so that the business can deploy and scale the network anywhere.

Another advantage to the network fabric is that its software-defined. It can be automated and refined, giving the business the ability to orchestrate its functionality across systems and applications. It’s a frictionless orchestra across cloud, network, data centre, distributed workforce and system. It also offers organisations the ability to retain richer control over security of data and systems across multiple locations. The network fabric made up of the physical data centre, co-location, cloud and system is critical in embedding security throughout the company infrastructure and in ensuring the smooth movement of data across multiple locations.

And this is where X marks the spot

There is significant research that points to how EX and CX are critical to long-term and sustainable business success. The network fabric is an invaluable asset that shapes how organisations engage with employees by ensuring their well-being through a connected world across the cloud, the edge and the core of the business. It ensures that whether remote, hybrid or in the office, people have the tools they need to perform. This has the knock-on impact of ensuring that customers are served by engaged employees within systems that are designed to deliver to expectations. The circle of service delivery that puts connected people and performance at the centre of the workplace.

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