The Immeasurable Potential of Software Defined Networking

shutterstock_34282426A relatively new type of network technology is coming to light, known as Software Defined Networking (SDN). This concept may revolutionize network traffic and processing in the future with a little forethought now. For a growing business to make educated technology decisions, the following points regarding SDN should be considered.

 

 

What Is SDN?

On a traditional network, control and routing are an integral part of the network’s hardware devices. The “switch” on the device points the flow of data packets onto a specific path. These packets typically follow the same universal route from the particular device with limited ability to change the route if needed.

Using an SDN decouples the functions from the devices and places the control at a higher, more abstract level. Rather than wires and physical hardware running the show, software does the job at a significant advantage.

Benefits of SDN

Speed is the key word when speaking of the gains of using SDN. Traffic and data can be rerouted and load balanced on the fly, improving network performance immensely. Access to data is optimized and lag time is a thing of the past. Since so much data today is cloud based, having a more virtual way to channel activity centrally is a very fitting solution.

Another major benefit of SDN is related to a company’s human resources. Once SDN is implemented by the network team, application developers can leverage SDN protocols for more complex operations of an applications data processing. This could improve the productivity of application developers, and reduce costs and speed to market for new apps. Configuration is programmatic and can be done rapidly and inexpensively. Last but not least, SDN networks are extremely flexible and can be easily scaled to accommodate bigger data and added traffic.

Challenges

SDN is a highly complex technology that is still in its infancy. The delta between the potential and the reality of this solution is still quite sizable and there is little recommendation yet about how to successfully implement SDN. This could translate into a fairly large learning curve as it relates to installation. Fortunately, the IT community recognizes this challenge and various organizations have combined forces to smooth the road.

Two things MUST be present for SDN to work, accuracy of network architecture, and a well-constructed set of traffic rules for network behavior. Without both of these factors firmly in place, SDN implementation is at risk. If the network is not properly configured and control is removed from device firmware, data may not flow efficiently due to incomplete route information. If traffic rules are inadequately defined, the utter bedlam that may result could render the network inoperable or fraught with lag.

SDN is an exciting way of optimizing the ever-increasing traffic on the cloud. Understanding its immense potential is the first step on the path to implementing a powerful network solution.

The Emerging Role of IT

shutterstock_164312069The role of IT has changed significantly during the rapid technological growth of the past 25 years. It must continue to evolve in order to support both emerging technologies and updated business models.

As the support role of IT expands, IT is becoming increasingly important in the enterprise. The IT role is also increasingly conflicted. The traditional role of IT involves the delivery of essential IT services. The emerging role of IT is to provide innovative IT solutions for progressing business.

IT must make some fundamental changes to how it operates in order to satisfy these simultaneous needs as well as maintain visibility and value within the organization. By managing four key challenges, IT can successfully adapt to its ever-changing role without becoming stagnant.

Update Resource Allocations

IT must re-invent the wheel on how it manages both financial and human resources:

  • Traditional models suggest devoting 90% of resources to supporting core business services and only 10% on new projects.
  • Research suggests that the successful business must update this ratio and devote 30% of resources to supporting core IT functions and 70% to differentiated IT projects.
  • Successful resource re-allocation requires studying current revenue flows and understanding how strategic investments will drive future revenue.

This requires a significant change in direction, but one worth the effort. IT can find creative ways to satisfy both priorities, such as upgrading essential technologies to innovative platforms that will differentiate the business and provide an essential service.

Invest in the Right Talent

The emerging role of IT requires stakeholders to invest in innovative and flexible employees who excel not just in classic IT problem-solving, but in understanding and advocating for the user experience. IT must understand the problems that users face today, and the ones they will face tomorrow. Modern IT employees must possess a breadth of industry experience, including those without the traditional IT background.

IT is changing, and so are its leaders – hire the IT leaders of today who will also support your business tomorrow.

Update Internal Processes

IT must adjust its processes to account for both of its priorities: solving traditional business problems and proactively addressing anticipated challenges. In order to remain both successful and stable, IT must update existing processes and create new processes. IT must also ensure that there are distinct processes for both ongoing issues and innovative projects. The timelines for these processes must be tailored and realistic. Traditional projects typically require a longer timeline, while differentiated IT projects involve shorter and more iterative timelines. Once the new IT processes are perfected, they must be executed and repeated.

Recreate the IT-Business Relationship

The business-engagement model for IT is much different in today’s world than it was in the recent past. Previously, executives made requests of IT and IT would fulfill it. Under this new framework, IT must inform leadership of the relevant technologies, this translates into ongoing conversations and engagement between IT and leadership.

Final thoughts

Companies are changing the way they do business and technology plays huge role in this. Therefore, IT also has to change the way it supports these evolving companies. By consciously allocating resources, investing in the right talent, adjusting processes, and changing the engagement model with leadership, IT can support the critical business functions of today while also paving the way for the successes of tomorrow.

Avaya and Chromebook: The New Customer Service

shutterstock_234032416While many industries are still tied to legacy systems, Avaya is setting the precedent for next-generation call centers through a partnership with Google. Avaya has enabled customer service employees to use the Avaya agent on Google’s Chromebook laptops for anywhere, anytime connectivity to customers in need of support.

Many contact centers still use legacy, on-premise solutions to service customers. These solutions are more and more outdated; next-generation telephony must be both cloud and mobile-friendly.

Unified Communications (UC) plays a key role in the transformation of the call center into a remote, yet fully enabled customer service network. The ability to contact agents through multiple endpoints at both customer and agent convenience is not just the key to excellent customer service, but also to the future of the industry.

Flexible Contact Technology

Top-tier customer service involves giving consumers multiple ways to contact a representative. A phone call is no longer enough. The modern consumer wants the option to voice or video chat, and the call center needs cost-efficient ways in which to implement the capability.

For Avaya, this is where Chromebooks come into play. With this additional option, customers have the following choices for interacting with an agent:

  • Telephone an employee in a physical call center.
  • Reach an employee through a landline phone at a remote office.
  • Email an employee.
  • Reach a remote employee who is using a Chromebook, which provides options for email, voice and video chat, and can function as a softphone.

Employee Satisfaction

In addition to providing cutting-edge technology, advancements such as this step by Avaya increase employee morale by making it easier for employees to work from home:

  • Studies show that an increasing number of call center employees are working from home (both in the U.S. and internationally).
  • Many employees who are not currently able to work from home wish they had the option.
  • Regardless of current practice, the modern-day contact center must adopt a more flexible work from home policy to remain competitive and attract top employees.

Better Customer Service

New remote technology like Avaya Agent-enabled Chromebooks allows contact centers to provide a higher level of service to their customers. For example:

  • Giving consumers the ability to immediately “click for assistance” from a website, in addition to using phone and email support options.
  • Matching specific customer issues to contact center subject matter experts:
  • Enabling virtual queuing.
  • Streamlining and monitoring contact center processes through management dashboards such as the Chrome management console.

Expanding the Telephony Vendor Role

Vendors who wish to retain their relevance should follow Avaya’s example in supporting UC-enabled platforms that enable employees to work remotely and provide excellent customer service. Utilizing adaptable, live assistance solutions will certainly be the customer service wave of the future.

Big Data and the Cloud Go Well Together

shutterstock_121471804As data moves to the cloud, in order to gather that data and interpret it in a timely manner, it’s important to plan how to integrate cloud-based data feeds. Here are some common cloud-based data sources, and ideas for utilization.

Web Data

The web is a maelstrom of data that is ripe for analysis. Consider the number of user clicks that occur throughout the web in a single minute, RFID sensors on products or packaging, social media feeds, web logs, and more. The list of possible data sources on the web feels infinite and may be intimidating to approach. However, cloud-based analytics tools, available as open source or as subscription services, make collecting data and arriving at insights a painless experience.

Social Trends

Potentially one of the most powerful sources of data today is social media. Consider Twitter and Facebook alone, and the billions of daily users who access those services. Fortunately, these two social networks have extensive analytics services available for a fee.

Internet of Things

Technological advances have allowed the most interesting (and sometimes odd) objects and services to report data. Smart traffic signals, garbage collection services, infant monitors, medical devices, refrigerators, and more, all report information to the cloud. The massive amounts of data from Internet of Things devices can be analyzed as it streams in, or stored and analyzed using frameworks such as Hadoop.

Mobile

A trend in mobile development is to have the non-UI processing of a mobile application performed in the cloud. This allows greater flexibility and better performance. Since the back end activities are handled in the cloud, the resulting data can be analyzed there as well.

The cloud is home to many stores of data. With planning, savvy companies can capture this information and gain valuable insights to help increase revenue, create more engaged and satisfied customers, and decrease expenses.