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How to Maximize Network Agility to Drive Digital Transformation

Today, the network is more complicated than ever. To accomplish digital transformation goals, organizations are using a variety of networks, including wireless networks, campus networks, wide area networks, and data center networks. That means the need for a combined, singular, and seamless solution has never been more important.

Pondering the best way to maximize your network agility to meet your data center digital transformation goals? Extreme’s VP of Solutions Strategy Dan Dulac and Product Director Dan DeBacker explain the path to the new data center in this video:


Based on the path Dan and Dan discussed, we’ve listed the four primary steps that organizations should take when revamping their network to prepare for the future of technological innovation:

1. Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken (No Rip and Replace)

The crux of your network is within its foundation. When it comes time to upgrade your network, ripping and replacing your existing infrastructure might not be the best idea. Going forward, it will be critical that your network is adaptable, so seek out open and agnostic options that will allow multiple vendors.

Your network needs to be able to dynamically adapt to the future of networking without requiring a costly forklift of your current hardware. It’s important to be able to use multiple vendors when managing and automating your network – it can mean all the difference when getting your network primed and ready for virtualization and other modern technology. Further, your network must be prepared for the increasing demands of the business.

2. Renovate Your Data Center Fabric

It is vital to start with the fabric. Think of the data center as the nervous system of your enterprise, the network as the nerves, and packets as the neurons – critical to the transmission of data to and from the data center. Many organizations run an outdated, sometimes proprietary, network fabric that is just not powerful enough to meet the agility demands needed to drive digital transformation. If it has been more than five years since your data center’s fabric has been updated, your organization must make that overhaul a top priority.

When deciding on what vendor provides the best data center fabric, there are a few traits that must be identified. Primarily, your goal should be to improve your agility, and then bring that agility into your organization’s cloud. Search for vendors that have a focus on embedded fabric automation, visibility and analytics, and adaptability with cross domain automation.        

3. Automation is a Journey

The ability to automate the data center is the destination, but automation is a journey. Having the right automation tool to build upon is critical. Once a proper data center network fabric has been established, it is necessary to provision servers, services and applications. Everything can’t be automated on day one. Therefore, a pragmatic approach with micro-services is best to start automating certain tasks. Think of this as automation-assist to configure VLANs, deploy firewall rules, provision port channels for servers, etc. There’s an array of methods to do this – you could use RESTful APIs, open-source software like Ansible, or completely homebrew your provisioning with Python. There are simpler ways too, such as using pre-packaged Extreme technology like Extreme Management Center or Extreme Workflow Composer Automation Suites.

Even though the provisioning is complete, your job here isn’t quite done. Your IT team needs to continually find innovative ways to optimize the network for the specific needs of your organization. This is where automation is key – instead of wasting the genius of your team to complete repetitive, everyday tasks, they can begin to think creatively about how to best utilize the network. This is also true not just for networking tasks, but also in cross-domain automation, to include storage and compute tasks.

4. Orchestrate Your Workflows

After provisioning, organizations need a workflow-centric, cross-domain automation solution like  Extreme Workflow Composer, which is an automation platform built on the StackStorm open source project. It is designed to automate the entire network lifecycle and enable cross-domain workflows to deliver split-second, cross-domain automation for improved IT and business agility.

For example, a new virtual machine is created, then the automation will provision the network connectivity. From there, workflows can add and configure load balancers as well as firewalls for application roll out.

Want to learn how to build your path to the new data center? Check out our agile data center solutions page for insights and access additional data center resources.

This post was originally published by Marketing Communications Co-Op Liz Krupa.

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