Steve Horneman

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As digital transformation reshapes how businesses operate across today’s highly competitive global landscape, CIOs face increasing pressure to build data-driven operational practices that support enterprise goals.  But traditional IT practices aren’t built for next-generation environments that sprawl across on-premises data centers—often using virtualization and software-defined networking technologies— and private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. Clearly, CIOs need to revamp IT network operations for the digital world.

In a recent CUBE conversation with Peter Burris, Thor Wallace, senior vice president and CIO at NETSCOUT, offered his top three tactics for doing so.

1. Rethink network management to accommodate the edge.

Companies are increasingly moving away from centralized, monolithic networks to cloud-based networks that improve user productivity and customer experience. This move to edge computing undoubtedly presents tremendous opportunities for businesses, but at the same time it also creates new challenges for IT, who must now deal with multiple environments. “IT must ensure the performance of services and applications, and do so in a way that’s productive and cost effective,” Wallace said.  “As some operations move to the cloud and become virtualized, while other workloads remain in on-premises data centers, it becomes important to rethink how your network is designed from the ground up in order to create a low latency environment.”  

2. Network visibility must move across technical borders.

As more workloads move to the cloud and out to the edge, gaining visibility into the entire network and its interdependencies becomes even more crucial, particularly as more third-party providers, such as unified communications and collaboration vendors, get involved. This means that IT must adopt a holistic, end-to-end approach to monitoring that allows them to pinpoint performance issues or service interruptions, whether they are internal or within a vendor’s environment. “Pervasive visibility is a must,” Wallace said. Without a deep understanding of what's going on, IT can’t pinpoint problems and can’t take immediate action.” Moreover, this focus must be baked into the earliest stages of network re-design—particularly when cloud is involved—via a synchronized sourcing and information re-design. “This is key to ensuring IT gets the information they need to sustain the degree of control needed. Otherwise, they end up with great technology, but no way to deal with problems when they arise,” he said.

3. Upgrade your team’s skills.

Beyond upgrading critical infrastructure, organizations also need to think about upgrading the skills of key IT personnel, who will be responsible for managing and ensuring the performance of on-premises and cloud environments. “I don't think people realize the degree to which some of these changes are really going to change the way that they actually get work done,” Wallace said. Working with cloud providers will drive a more contractual approach to solving problems that minimizes the inevitable finger-pointing about who owns what problem.  According to Wallace, upskilling IT teams and providing them with better information is vital to the success of any data center transformation initiative

“The best way to do that is to have fact-based, evidence-based visibility into what's actually happening so you can pinpoint and avoid the back and forth about whose issue it really is,” he said.

NETSCOUT CIO Perspective - Unlocking Business Agility and Productivity

Read more about digital transformation for the data center here.

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