User behaviours are hard to predict and do not necessarily change gradually over time.
Since the beginning of 2020, quarantines and lockdowns across the globe revealed the need for many organizations to invest more into their network infrastructure. The sudden surge in bandwidth demand, caused by a myriad of changes in the way we work and play, has shown that the network can only be ignored for so long.
The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for businesses to accelerate their network transformation for critical business applications and services. Ultimately, these are times where the traditional approach to networking simply isn’t good enough to support the changes in the day-to-day operations or to future-proof business models.
Common pitfalls of traditional networking include inflexible contract terms, unscalable or utilized bandwidth, limited network footprint, and interconnections.
Quite a few things have changed recently, including the following.
- Cloud Activity — Remote working is driving more traffic to the cloud, as it has become the primary tool for businesses to keep their operations up and running. This has driven more attention toward dedicated cloud connectivity. Both digital service providers and enterprises are bolting on more cloud services with the increase in consumer and business applications usage.
- Internet Traffic — Similarly, rapidly growing content consumption has challenged telcos, over-the-top (OTT) providers, content streaming services, and IT service providers to scale up at internet peering exchanges (IX) across the globe. With the increase in internet usage and eyeballs consuming content on a daily basis, these businesses need to ensure their internet route is not congested or experiencing hops.
- Voice and Conferencing — One of the biggest surprises of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the importance of voice calling. It has added pressure on the network with increased inbound traffic volume as well as demand for more bandwidth capacity to support Voice over IP (VoIP). The traditional voice market has seen steadily declining traffic and price erosion for nearly a decade. In a time of crisis, minutes have spiked, and both mobile network operators (MNOs) and fixed line service providers have had to accommodate unusual traffic volumes.
However, these traditional voice traffic volumes are also unlikely to last as remote workers adapt and explore low- or no-cost OTT options. In response to the massive influx, OTT and unified communications (UC) companies have significantly added more bandwidth capacity and some even asked users to stagger conference calls to ensure that network congestion doesn’t hurt the overall user experience.
A New Networking Model
All of these factors point to the need for a networking model that is ready to scale up and down rapidly with the flexibility to change at a moment’s notice. Organizations need to be prepared to pivot without continually overpaying for network services that they don’t necessarily need while being able to bolt new capabilities onto an existing service.
The underlying network infrastructure has shown to be critical for businesses to stay up and running, along with the growing importance of the network-as-a-service (NaaS) model and software-defined networking (SDN) platforms to support this need.
NaaS is a flexible model that is ready to serve both short-term and long-term needs efficiently. It is accelerating much-needed transformation today with the ability for organizations to grow anywhere. On top of this, its built-in flexibility, scalability, and adaptability supports organizations with scaling their network services to meet changing user demands.
With end-to-end control, transparency, and monitoring, NaaS provides high visibility into the network performance as well as troubleshooting. Another key proposition is its network automation and ability to procure services on demand for higher efficiency.
Preparing for an Uncertain Future
The future might be uncertain, but organizations can bring new levels of flexibility and adaptability to their network infrastructure. The connectivity powering their applications and services has to be just as agile as the cloud. When fast, simple and powerful network solutions are in place, the increasingly remote workforce and the customers they serve can continue to enjoy a more seamless digital experience.
Something that’s at the back of the mind is now front and center as businesses are challenged to scale network bandwidth and adding new network resources to keep their staff and customers connected. Be it getting short-term interconnection or large bandwidth capacity, NaaS has proven to be a complement to digital-centric organizations.
One of the results of our collective experience during this pandemic will be greater preparedness for the future of work that’s enabled by robust and flexible networking. Now that users have seen what is possible, there may be no going back. As an industry, it is up to us to keep the world at work and people connected.