In the business of networksBy Steve Coakley,
A good start is half the work
We sometimes forget that most lasting solutions start with a good business reason for doing them. As Larry Fink (CEO, BlackRock) wrote recently: ‘Purpose guides culture, provides a framework for consistent decision-making, and, ultimately, helps sustain long-term financial returns.’ That holds true for enterprise networks too. If you start by defining the purpose of your network you make better decisions on its future.
In this blog I’m in discussion with Andy Brooks (Senior Global Channel Director, Infovista).
You may have read Andy’s recent blog ‘How to make your network smarter’ which he starts off by saying: ‘Global organisations could be losing around 2.6 per cent of their annual revenues because of slow running applications and downtime.’ He goes on to describe two use cases: the first, a bank successfully deploying Skype for Business for better call experience amongst employees and 10 per cent savings in travel costs. The second was a fast-food chain needing to optimise ordering at peak times and using Infovista to support faster payment processing and shorter queueing times.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Andy, a recent survey by EIQ Research & InfoVista found that 74 per cent of retailers cite the network as an impediment to an effective customer journey. What are the typical issues facing retailers? And can you give us an example of how Infovista helped?
Retailers buy-in to better customer experience
‘Imagine innovative apps on an in-store wireless tablet. They smoothly guide the sales journey, offer persuasive proof points and find deals to match customers’ exact needs.
Now suppose that setup needs more bandwidth than is available to many stores - especially considering it must compete for WAN resources with point of sale, guest Wi-Fi devices, back-office functions, and so on - and there’s no time for a network upgrade. Customers are coming into the store using the guest Wi-Fi, interactive screens etc. Shopping is now so much more than just visiting a store and buying goods - it’s about the experience of buying those items. And with online shopping, retailers have to now offer more.
At Infovista, we can help improve that experience and protect the critical applications whilst letting customers have the full, consistent, memorable shopping experience they demand.’
Question 2: In the same survey it was reported that 70 per cent of manufacturers can’t provide an effective user experience. Do you have an example of where we helped in that industry?
Manufacturers make the most of cloud applications
‘At InfoVista we have many worldwide manufacturing customers across the automotive industry, construction, healthcare, and the toy, sports, and packing industries. Many manufacturing organisations are implementing Skype for Business to replace outdated, expensive PBX systems - while keeping their current bandwidth and network management teams.
Our Ipanema system prioritises network infrastructure resources based on real-time insights of applications like Skype for Business, so bandwidth is used in an optimal way. Manufacturers realise cost savings on the back of implementing Skype for Business, like reduced help desk support costs from fewer trouble tickets opened by Skype users. The net win for the manufacturer is they can continue to manage their worldwide networks with small network management teams, which means they can be more efficient while guaranteeing application performance over the network.
When you apply this at a production facility, our manufacturing customers not only see operational efficiencies increase, but also an increase in productivity by employees and production lines. That’s a direct positive impact on revenue as our survey identified.’
Question 3: Andy, another point to note in the survey was that 50 per cent of financial institutions are restrained by network capacity. What’s driving that and what does an Infovista solution do to mitigate the current bandwidth explosion?
Banking on better connectivity
‘Banks and financial institutions are now maximising mobility and allowing employees to work anywhere and from any device. A recent bank deployment allowed corporate employees to use their personal devices at work and access corporate applications at home or in any banking location.
Infovista help IT departments become more agile, making it easier and more efficient to troubleshoot and to be able to deploy new applications faster. Banks are also looking to reduce telecoms costs, by reviewing the global infrastructure. Many organisations are also migrating to full Skype for Business and Microsoft Office365 in the cloud. We help to deliver excellent quality of experience to Skype for Business and Office365 users, increasing productivity and cutting telecom costs. Employees can only be as productive as their tools allow and our survey showed that organisations that successfully manage their application performance stand to gain as much as 6 per cent to their annual revenues.’
Question 4: Infovista claims the solution is unique for its ‘ultra-granular’ visibility and control for business applications. Can you elaborate on that and what that might mean for an IT leader?
First you need to see there’s an issue, before you can do something about it
‘It’s important to make sure the customer’s business critical applications are treated with the same priority so their (and their end user) expectations are met every time. That means our Infovista solution needs to act on every session that traverses a customer network individually and independently so each users experience is guaranteed. We offer end-to-end control - if a packet is sent for one site we’ll guarantee that it’ll arrive at the remote site. With control we also offer the visibility to prove that applications are meeting their SLAs. To do that we use a reporting term AQS (application quality score) where we give a score from 0-10 on the performance of that application session, with drill down to the actual session and its performance. Without the ability to do all of this at that granular, session-level, for every application, IT leaders simply can’t guarantee any user experience for their employee’s most critical business applications. That has a direct impact on revenue as our survey highlighted.’
Question 5: There’s some debate about what’s ‘true SD-WAN’. How do you see BT Connect Intelligence serving businesses who have identified SD-WAN as a technology of interest?
‘Infovista has been in partnership with BT for over 10 years, delivering a proven technology. We were developing hybrid WAN, prioritisation and visibility many years before it was a concept for customers and many other vendors.
We work at the application level, prioritising critical applications and choosing the correct path for every single individual session with full in-depth visibility. I believe the majority of our customers need the functionality to protect their applications and provide a guaranteed end user experience, no matter their network topology and architecture.’
Question 6: BT and Infovista have a huge amount of accumulated experience - what benefits do our customers see from that?
The power of proven partnership
‘When I speak to customers, the word I tend to use is proven. We’re a proven, tested, technology and with BT we’re a proven service able to deliver to over 86 countries worldwide. We’ve resolved the issues that a lot of the other vendors are now experiencing and offer a solution that’s far more advanced than many of our competitors. The management wrap that is offered by BT using our technology has over 40 customers delivering a first-class service world-wide. If a customer takes our solution they can be guaranteed that they will receive a first class service.’