Level 3 Communications

Adam Saenger

The Real Power of the Network Is in Users Hands

Digital transformation is an important part of maintaining and increasing any company’s market leadership. Enterprises need to maintain relevancy in today’s hyper-competitive environment. To that end, business leaders around the globe are turning to digital initiatives to drive product innovation, revenue growth and improve customer experience.

Manufacturing stalwart General Electric (GE) aims to change the landscape of digital industrial transformation with GE Digital – its first new business unit in 75 years. Walmart President and CEO, Doug McMillon, announced the company’s commitment to “put the power to save in more shoppers’ hands” when it acquired Jet.com, a fast growing ecommerce company. Just as products and services are becoming more and more connected, enterprises are also prioritizing customer experience and engagement initiatives to build stronger digital relationships with their customers.

The trend of a connected economy, originating from both consumer and IoT devices, is pushing tremendous amounts of data across the internet and private networks, with much of that data passing through cloud platforms. And it’s this attachment to the cloud that reflects the growing movement of data across the infrastructure, driving the need for increased flexibility and access options, with a choice of digital mediums through which users can interact with these resources. Customer digital interaction mediums include web portals, mobile and application program interfaces (APIs), with expectations for mobile to grow to 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices by 2021, according to a recent Cisco report.

Digital transformation demands networks that are agile and rapidly scalable in order to keep up with the pace of change that drives enterprises. Specifically, networks must be able to address the dynamic environment that connects people to people, people to data and applications, processes and systems, and machines to machines.

When successfully executed, the role of IT shifts from a back-office cost center to a critical business enabler that embraces change and drives businesses toward innovation and competitive differentiation. As IoT and cloud services increase their footprint for business uses, connectivity and the ability to manage network resources is becoming increasingly critical. IT needs the ability to dynamically manage business requirements that stem from an always-on world. This is realized when IT needs and agile network capabilities come together.

What makes a network agile?

The provisioning of network resources has traditionally been a series of highly coordinated manual tasks handled by multiple people accessing multiple services within the network. As businesses require more agility, they’re looking to mitigate this complexity and improve network interaction to automate service changes. These automated interactions streamline the overall process, leading to faster delivery intervals and more accurate service delivery.

The adoption of software defined networks (SDN) allows IT to directly control the network resources delivered by their network provider, and is enabled through web portals, mobile or APIs, depending on the users’ preferred medium. Control capabilities can include bandwidth management, as well as connectivity to private and public data centers and the cloud resources that are hosted within.

The pursuit of full automation is commonly enabled through API-connected machine-to-machine interactions. APIs are the conduit into the control mechanisms that enable information and configuration requests to be enabled. One API application is the enablement of IT orgs to dynamically change bandwidth programmatically rather than manually. For projects like planned migrations, dynamic control of the network allows provisioning of higher capacity to enable speedy completion, then lower the capacity back to the original bandwidth once the migration is complete. APIs also allow enterprise IT to control their network resources based on conditions and triggers they define for their business-critical applications, including enterprise resource planning, business continuity planning and other critical functions.   

The ability to expand SDN to include WAN infrastructure will bring a cloud-like experience akin to SaaS environments to users.  Self-service network control will deliver the simplicity, speed and accuracy needed to help companies use this disruption as a competitive advantage to their competitors.

At Level 3, we’ve been leveraging automated network control for over six years to manage our own infrastructure and services we deliver, in addition to customer self-serve capabilities available through our Adaptive Network Control solutions. Keep an eye out here for news and insights from Level 3 about continued innovations that accelerate the pace of business.

Learn how Level 3 can help you automated, real-time business network management.