Network Modernization: Present and Future

In today’s fast-paced business world, staying ahead of technological advancements can make all the difference in your organization’s growth journey.

Through network modernization, you can build the digital infrastructure necessary to adopt emerging cloud technologies and maintain a competitive advantage over entities within your vertical. 

However, you can’t embark on a network modernization journey half-heartedly. You need a comprehensive network modernization strategy that accounts for the inevitable challenges you’ll encounter along the way.

With that in mind, join us as we explore the basics of modernizing your data networks, including benefits, challenges, and strategies to consider. 


What is Network Modernization?

Network modernization refers to the process of upgrading and transforming a company’s networking infrastructure to improve its efficiency, security, scalability, and manageability.

This type of transformation often involves moving away from traditional, hardware-centric network setups toward more flexible and secure solutions, such as a cloud-based wide-area network (WAN).

The goal of network modernization is to create a network that can better support current and future enterprise needs, adapt to modern technology landscapes, and provide a foundation for digital transformation initiatives.

By revamping your network, you can achieve greater agility, facilitating more proactive business management amid shifting market conditions. 


Components of Network Modernization

It’s important to tailor your network modernization strategy to align with the unique needs of your business. That said, most modernization initiatives will feature a few common components, including the following.


Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

Also known as software-defined infrastructure, SDN uses software and automation to manage infrastructure resources.

Traditionally, businesses or their service providers manage these resources using hardware and manual processes. 

By automating the delivery of these services, you’ll achieve more centralized and flexible control of network resources, improving efficiency and adaptability.

IT moderns consider SDN the next big leap forward in the way organizations manage and control their infrastructure resources. 

Familiarizing yourself with software-defined networking will help determine when and where to integrate these concepts into your technology strategy. 


Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)

NFV decouples network functions, such as routing, firewalling, and load balancing, from dedicated hardware. 

In turn, NFV allows these functions to run as software on general-purpose servers. This approach increases flexibility and reduces dependence on specialized hardware. 


Cloud Networking

Integrating cloud services into the network architecture enhances scalability, flexibility, and accessibility. Cloud networking can involve leveraging public, private, or hybrid cloud environments to support various business applications and services. 


Advanced Security Measures

Modern networks incorporate advanced security protocols, encryption standards, and other cybersecurity measures to protect against evolving threats. This focus on security is crucial in an era of frequent cyberattacks and data breaches. 


Automation and Orchestration

Automating routine network tasks and orchestrating complex workflows can significantly reduce manual efforts, minimize errors, and improve operational efficiency. 

You can also reduce total IT costs through automation, freeing up funds to explore other growth and optimization opportunities. 


Why is Network Modernization Important for Businesses?

Regardless of the industry you operate in, technology undoubtedly plays a central role in your day-to-day operations.

You rely on digital tools for managing back-end processes, communicating with consumers, booking appointments, facilitating transactions, and relaying information to vendors. Think of your network as the scaffolding for the various technology tools you rely on every day.

As you grapple with ever-increasing data volumes, the demand for faster, more reliable, and more secure networks becomes undeniable. Modernizing your network infrastructure not only addresses these needs but also equips you with the ability to adapt to changing customer expectations and market dynamics.

Consider the retail industry, where the integration of online and in-store shopping experiences demands a robust network capable of handling real-time inventory updates. A modernized network ensures that retailers can offer a unified and personalized shopping experience.

Similarly, in the healthcare sector, modernized networks are crucial for supporting telemedicine services, electronic health records (EHR), and Internet of Things (IoT) devices in patient care. These technologies require fast, secure connectivity to ensure the timely delivery of care.

Manufacturing companies also benefit from network modernization by adopting Industry 4.0 technologies. Smart factories rely on interconnected devices and systems to optimize production processes, predict maintenance needs, and enhance supply chain efficiency.


Key Benefits of Network Modernization

Creating a comprehensive network modernization strategy will lay the foundation for a wide range of benefits, such as the following.


Improved Network Efficiency and Reliability

Traditional networks demand an abundance of manual inputs and on-site hardware, which increases the likelihood of efficiency and reliability issues. 

Modernized networks equipped with the latest technologies, like SDNs and NFVs, offer unmatched efficiency.

These advancements allow you to automate network management, reducing manual configuration errors and guaranteeing optimal performance. 

Moreover, they enhance reliability and help you avoid unplanned downtime, which can be detrimental to your bottom line and the customer experience. 


Enhanced Security Posture

A single security breach can permanently tarnish your company’s hard-earned reputation and erode customer trust. 

As such, you must do everything possible to maintain a strong security posture and safeguard your network.

As cyber threats evolve, so too must your network security strategy.

Modernizing a network introduces advanced security measures, including better encryption standards, superior intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), and end-to-end security protocols. 

These enhancements safeguard your sensitive data and protect critical operations from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. 


Scalability to Support Growth 

You can’t predict what challenges your organization will face a year from now. 

However, you can prioritize nimbleness and adaptability to ensure that you can adapt to whatever hurdles lie just over the horizon.

Through network modernization, you can enhance your ability to add new office locations, support remote workers, or accommodate increased data traffic.

Antiquated technologies and rigid infrastructure can undermine long-term growth. Conversely, an agile, resilient cloud-based architecture gives you the freedom to do business on your terms.

No matter what the future holds for your business, a modernization initiative will make sure you’re prepared to thrive. 


Challenges of Network Modernization

Change is hard, especially when implementing comprehensive changes to your entire digital infrastructure and network. Altering your network means reinventing the way your team interacts with software, devices, and each other. 

While network modernization is a change worth pursuing, it’s critical that you count the costs before launching your initiative.

Specifically, you must familiarize yourself with potential barriers you may encounter and count the costs of implementing organization-wide change. 

With that in mind, here are three challenges to remain cognizant of.


Managing Legacy Systems Integration

One of the primary hurdles of network modernization is the integration of legacy systems. 

Due to operational necessity or financial constraints, you can’t phase out all of your older systems at once. Instead, you’ll need to bring over existing data and connect your legacy applications to your new infrastructure.

Ensuring compatibility between new network technologies and legacy systems requires meticulous planning and creative solutions, posing a significant challenge for IT teams. 

Where possible, explore ways to break away from legacy on-premise systems. Even if you can’t replace all of your existing software simultaneously, you can strategically upgrade key applications to promote overall agility. 

Focus on the investments that will deliver the quickest time to value and the strongest return on investment (ROI). 


High Initial Investment

Upgrading to a modern network infrastructure involves significant initial investment.

The costs of acquiring new hardware and software licenses and hiring or training staff with the requisite expertise can be substantial. These expenses can impose a considerable barrier for small to medium-sized businesses, necessitating careful financial planning.

One solution involves a multi-stage implementation. This approach allows you to spread your costs over months or even years. 

As each stage is complete, you should experience some ROI and efficiency gains, freeing up more resources to fund the subsequent stage.


Skill Gaps and Training Needs

The shift toward more advanced network technologies calls for employee training and upskilling. Even if your new technologies are more user-friendly and intuitive, transitioning away from well-understood legacy systems will prove difficult for some team members.

Be proactive about change management from day one. Inform your team about what changes are taking place and why, and explain how those shifts will make their jobs easier. The key is to achieve high employee buy-in early on.

Once everyone is on the same page, train your staff to ensure that they feel comfortable using the new technologies. When your team is confident in their abilities, you’ll enjoy a shorter time to value.


Network Modernization Strategies to Use

Step one to network modernization involves determining your “why.” Be specific about what you hope to achieve, which business challenges you want to solve, and how the initiative aligns with your future vision for the organization. 

Next, decide whether you want to modernize in stages or all at once. The latter approach can be more budget-friendly, whereas the one-and-done method offers a shorter completion timetable.

Once you have a clear idea of your goals and budgetary limitations, enlist the aid of a data modernization partner. 

The right partner can help you set realistic milestones, stay on budget, and complete the project within your desired timeframe. 


Get More Advice on Network Modernization 

Embarking on the journey of network modernization demands careful consideration and strategic planning. You’ll also need to align yourself with knowledgeable partners, such as TRG Datacenters.

We invite you to explore our other educational resources, including our article “Are Mobile Devices a Threat to Your Network?” so you can fully prepare for the journey you’re about to embark on. 

You can also connect with our team for a personalized consultation.