Software-centric IT environments are challenging IT organisations, according to Fluke Networks, who says a number of major changes are set to significantly change the role network engineers.
The networking company says changing business pressures, growing security threats and an increasingly software-centric approach to IT is changing the role of network engineers.
“Network leaders need to assess their organisation’s readiness for new developments in network management today, and prepare for the emerging trends yet to take hold,” explains Amit Rao, senior director of business development, Fluke Networks.
“The traditional approach to network management was focused just on the network domain. Now IT organisations are finding themselves challenged to effectively monitor and troubleshoot a software-centric IT environment using traditional tools,” he says.
“Dealing with evolving technology is business as usual for IT organisations. However, the breadth and extent of the pressures that are driving change within IT organisations represent more than just business as usual.
“They represent an ongoing fundamental shift in how the IT organisation functions in general and, in particular, the role of the network engineer,” says Rao.
Rao says there are three key factors significantly changing the role of the IT organisation and network management in today’s environment.
The pressure to show business value
“While IT organisations have always been under pressure to show business value, over the past couple of years this pressure has intensified as the need to grow and adapt has become paramount to long-term success,” Rao says.
The growing presence and threat from public cloud services
Rao says that within the current environment, it has become common for business and functional managers to directly acquire services or applications they either can’t get from their existing IT organisation or can’t get in a timely, cost-effective manner.
“This phenomenon is enabled by the growing presence of public cloud providers and is driven, in part, by users’ changing expectations,” he says.
The movement to a software-centric IT function
“Until relatively recently, many key components of IT infrastructure were hardware-centric,” says Rao.
He says the hardware-centric nature of the infrastructure heavily influenced the role performed by a network engineer at each stage of the equipment lifecycle.
“Today, however, most IT organisations have implemented additional forms of virtualisation including the virtualisation of appliances such as WAN optimisation controllers,” Rao explains. “Despite resistance to virtualisation, many networks are now undergoing fundamental change, with the emerging adoption of Software Defined Networking.”
Fluke Networks offers seven questions to help assess where an organisation stands in transitioning to the emerging network management approach:
1. Does your IT organisation have a well-understood, integrated plan for the evolution of its applications, compute capacity, storage, networking and security?
2. Does your organisation have a well-understood plan for how network management will evolve to respond to the ongoing business and technology changes?
3. Does your organisation have a well-understood plan for the evolution of the skills of its network engineers?
4. Does your organisation regularly assess the tools used for network management, and budget for upgrades or more contemporary solutions?
5. How much of a consideration is the ability to troubleshoot problems when your organisation decides to adopt new services such as public cloud services or implement SDN?
6. How often does your organisation identify and eliminate problems before they impact the user?
7. To what degree does your organisation have an approach to network management whereby each technology domain tries to prove that they are not the source of the problem?
“As organisations demand more business-centric alignment and agility from IT, it is incumbent upon IT leaders to take a proactive stand and address these questions,” Rao says. “By answering some, or all, of these questions, companies can take their first steps towards preparing for the next generation of network management.”