It’s no secret that businesses need always-on access to digital applications to stay competitive in today’s digitally dominant environment. Between 2020 and 2023, IDC forecasts that over 65% of Asia Pacific’s gross domestic product will be digitalized, with spending anticipated to hit US$1.2 trillion. In addition to investing heavily in their digital transformation efforts, enterprises are being driven to find the right network solutions to support their business needs due to the widespread adoption of disruptive latency-sensitive applications like IoT and machine learning.
Businesses that are looking to add new applications and capabilities to their networks quickly, efficiently, and remotely are turning to virtualization at branch, or ‘edge,’ locations to minimize deployment complexity and risk. This can be done by replacing multiple IT devices with a single network switch/server that runs all the necessary connectivity, apps, and services as virtualized functions. The traditional manual ways of building out and supporting branch IT infrastructure are simply unsustainable, especially amidst a global pandemic. Imagine the drain on resources it would take to allocate manpower to deploy, manage, and support the multitude of IT devices at each branch location. Not to mention, the higher costs incurred by businesses that rely on outsourced specialized teams to troubleshoot, upgrade, and replace these devices.
Clearly, the virtualization of their network and application assets can save enterprises a fortune on equipment, maintenance, and support costs, while simplifying branch IT infrastructure in the long run. However, the biggest challenge lies in the complex implementation process of replacing physical edge infrastructure with virtualized functions. Organizations that seek to accelerate and de-risk their edge virtualization journeys to achieve major CAPEX and OPEX savings need to have a strategy that incorporates the following key elements.
1. Openness and interoperability
To ensure a truly best-of-breed solution, organizations should consider implementing a virtualization solution that provides choice and flexibility. Choosing an open, standards-based solution enables businesses to select the ideal network connectivity device, virtual network functions, and applications to support specific technology needs in different locations and regions while avoiding vendor lock-in. This ensures that new technologies can be adopted easily and cost-effectively in the long run.
2. Enterprise-grade solutions that provide constant uptime and great performance
Organizations need to consider that virtualized network functions and applications need to be engineered to interoperate on the same device, which can lead to task-scheduling issues. Selecting a solution with advanced service chaining and orchestration capabilities can help enterprises overcome this challenge, as it ensures that all virtualized functions running on edge devices work seamlessly together. Working with partners that pre-test the virtualized functions on their platform can further reduce operational risks.
3. Specialist systems integration skills and resources – with real-world experience of deploying edge virtualization projects at scale
Undertaking a large, complex project could be tricky for resource-strapped businesses that can’t afford to spare headcount from other critical projects or lack the necessary expertise. Collaborating with a specialist edge virtualization partner can help create a tailored approach with strategic counsel on the most suitable approach to virtualized functions. This helps to de-risk the implementation process while accelerating time to market and improving ROI.
A strategy for success
The successful implementation of a virtualization strategy depends on more than just choosing the best software and hardware platforms. Replacing legacy physical devices with virtualized functions can mean opportunities for new revenue streams and improved operational efficiency, but investments in the right architecture, strategy, and skillsets are needed to ensure long-term success.
By Rick Seeto, Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific, Ciena