Businesses need to embrace service-oriented architectures, outsourced services and flexible network infrastructures if they are to respond effectively to uncertain commercial forces, says Juniper chairman and CEO Scott Kriens, who delivered a keynote address at the recent Interop conference, held in New York.
“They need to create [an] environment that can respond to changing risks,” he said. Investing in long-term service contracts and network gear that allows for growth as needed without massive investment up-front makes businesses nimble enough to adapt to changes in demand, he says.
If network resources are shared — both between and within organisations — the fixed cost of ownership drops, making it less expensive to operate in lean times, he said. Corporations can spend more in better times as demand grows for capacity, he says. “You can turn it up and turn it down.”
Kriens calls this flexible network the on-time, real-time enterprise, and says it is needed to support SOA effectively, so it can meet business objectives. That requires a marriage of infrastructure, applications and security.
“We need to create opportunity or solve problems with IT investment,” Kriens says. “We need to adopt technology to develop business advantages… IT should be considered a competitive advantage, not a cost centre.”
In corporate networking, businesses need to tie-in applications with security infrastructure design, so any application can be protected without the need for special provisioning for any particular application. And that infrastructure should be simple, predictable, standardised and customer-oriented, so it performs its technical tasks and helps businesses reach business goals, he says.
Just as the infrastructure itself should be flexible, to adapt to shifting application needs quickly, businesses, as a whole, should be willing to adapt rapidly to customer demand by partnering with others to gain the expertise they need. This is particularly true of networking technology companies, he says.
“Vendors need to partner with other vendors, but they need to define boundaries between vendors and respect them,” Kriens says.
As an example he cites Juniper’s partnership with Symantec. This blends Juniper’s networking experience with Symantec’s security software, so as to protecting networks from malicious attacks coming from devices attached to them.
Kriens urges customers to forge similar partnerships with network vendors as a way to map a long-term strategy, because experience shows that doing so can save up to 25% in costs over the alternative: network growth being tactically driven by whatever demand arises today.
At the same time, business IT leaders should be prepared to pay for the performance they seek. Kriens cites a CIMI study that shows only 20% of organisations have adequate infrastructure in place to support SOA architectures that afford long-term network adaptability, so infrastructure investment is essential.
“I don’t know how to do good, fast and cheap all at the same time,” he says.