Laurent Bouchoucha, Vice President of Business Development Network Solutions at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise explores the network requirements which are vital for success and business continuity in the digital age. His expert outlook provides three pillars upon which a network relies, making it robust and agile enough to face the increasing challenges networks face when keeping pace with the digital age.
The events of the past two years have transformed the way we live and work and have been the catalyst for majorly accelerated digital transformation across industries. When it comes to retaining customers, boosting productivity, and adapting to more varied working models, such as hybrid and teleworking, in 2022, businesses need to level up their networks in order to thrive in the digital age we now operate in. The benefits of the digital age are abundant; without digitalization, many businesses simply would not have survived the past two years, but along with the many benefits of digital transformation come serious challenges.
Since the beginning of the health crisis, businesses have witnessed and unfortunately been the victims of an explosion in cyber threats. Studies show that ransomware attacks soared by 93% in the first half of 2021 and are likely to rise in 2022. Considering the rapid development of connected objects, the omnichannel processing of information, and the revolution in working habits, IT departments are now facing the major challenge of securing an increasingly complex network infrastructure exposed to all that the digital age brings.
More connections, more threats
The boom in connected devices and IoT means we can now be more connected than ever through integration with people, processes, and things. Still, that increased number of IoTs means multiple new gateways for hackers to gain access to a network. The vulnerabilities of all IoT devices are notable, but for industry IoT (IIoT) or medical IoT (IoTM), where ultra-specialization does not allow for a very high level of security, the stakes become even higher.
In these situations, businesses must depend on virtual network segmentation to protect their network from compromise by identifying, assessing, and securely managing connected objects. Through segmentation, organizations can continue to reap the benefits of IoT connectivity in a way that is not only controlled but comes with reduced risk.
By diversifying the channels of communication, to offer clients a range of contact tools from traditional voice and email to instant messaging, heavy video conferencing, chatbots, and social networks, businesses are making much higher demands of their networks and telecommunications tools. In order to meet these demands and maintain business continuity with seamless customer service, networks must be resized and secured with end-to-end encryption, as this can help avoid the risk of flaws and data capture.
Internal threats of hybrid working
It’s an uncomfortable thought, but in many cases, cyber threats can come from within an organization. Due to the newfound mobility of employees and the hybrid IT network which combines physical servers and the cloud, the traditional firewalls that used to protect networks now offer less effective protection from threats, both externally and internally. To combat this issue, businesses need to consider employing a “Zero Trust” model that regards any source, internal or external, as a potentially hostile threat. By adopting this approach, organizations are better placed to control suspicious behavior in their system. They can segment and isolate a user or device from the infrastructure to protect against compromise.
Network pillars for the digital age
The challenges discussed up to this point are faced by IT departments daily, and in 2022 as modern businesses further rely heavily on their networks, the pressure to maintain that network against threats of any kind is immense. In many cases, companies fail to adequately measure potential risk to their network and suffer hugely as a consequence.
Successful protection against network challenges in the digital age can be condensed into three pillars with the aims to automate, segment, and simplify. Practical and implementable actions in these three areas make for overall network improvement, protection against the threat, and ensure networks not only survive in the digital age but also thrive in it.
Building an autonomous network
When network operations are manually executed using the command-line interface, this can lead to human errors and result in misconfigured network devices, security risks, and outages. An autonomous network is the champion solution to easily, systematically, and securely connect people, processes, and ever-growing connected objects and their applications without the need to reconfigure the network. By 2022, nearly a quarter of all infrastructure services will have autonomous, self-managing capabilities that will help speed up business outcomes and mitigate the risk of human error and network vulnerabilities.
When discussing network challenges, it is essential to segment a single physical network into separate virtual networks or containers. This helps ensure that each service, or application, has its own dedicated segment.
In the event of a security issue, specific device traffic can be contained and easily blocked from infiltrating other parts of the network. In terms of micro and macro segmentation, this facility must be scalable and have the capacity to efficiently and securely integrate a multitude of connected objects, both internal or external, to the organization, especially with the increasing bring your own device trend. The ability to segment the network in this way makes for a robust and resilient network foundation that will not leave a business flawed if the worst should happen.
Through digitalization, workflows can be simplified, and productivity is thus improved by immediately presenting data for faster decision-making. With a network built for the digital age, which can cope with all that is asked of it, IT departments can analyze activity and make smart, informed decisions on the next steps in digital transformation.
Digitalization aims to make operations slicker, smoother, and more time and cost-effective, and this extends from IT departments to employees on the ground, and most importantly, to the customer. Admittedly, making these network adaptations is a notable investment for companies, but the long-term benefits are numerous. This is why user experience analysis is so vital for demonstrating digital transformation ROI to business stakeholders.
On an individual level, employees will gain an improved teleworking experience from a robust, resilient, and secure network. Furthermore, in terms of large critical industries, infrastructure management can be more targeted, less time-consuming, and avoid costly patches and outages.
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To improve employee experience, accessibility, productivity, and customer satisfaction, building a network “for the digital age” is required. A successful network can be handcrafted to suit the sector of activity; it should be able to be deployed with the same level of intelligence on or off the premise and can be adapted, secure, robust, and durable in the face of digital-age challenges. Supported by automation, segmentation, and simplified workflows, your network can be the strong foundation of a powerful businesses in 2022 and beyond.