Moving to new networks beyond Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)-based architectures will require support from server and application teams. In particular, as the saying goes, applications are the reason infrastructure exists, and this constituency is driving network infrastructure change.
The Wikibon community has identified four main candidates for next generation network approaches: 1) Organizations that are very large with big, oversubcribed networks and sub-optimal port utilization; 2)Those looking to build new data centers; 3) Organizations that are growth-constrained by lack of network flexibility and poor scalability; and 4) Cloud service providers that can arbitrage infrastructure excellence by reselling IT services. In the view of the Wikibon community, these are the types of firms where investments beyond STP-based networks will deliver tangible ROI.
For organizations outside of this ‘sweet spot,’ the sell to CFOs will be more difficult because the benefits will be much 'softer.' Nonetheless, for those network professionals looking to the future, there is an opportunity to educate the organization on the inevitability of new network architectures, specifically teaming up with the server and application groups to support planning initiatives.
Network professionals need to be proactive in providing a roadmap that synchs with application and server futures. This will involve building proof points through pilot studies that will ensure adoption can move quickly when the time comes. Network engineering teams need to look for ways to bring value to application groups with enabling technologies that deliver Infrastructure 2.0.
Generally, application heads are not focused on infrastructure costs - that is another group's problem. The key for network professionals to sell advanced networking capabilities to the organization is to demonstrate how next gen infrastructure will make applications run better. This approach will create a tailwind from application and server groups and soften cost friction from the CFO's office.
Action Item: In 'selling' next generation network architectures to the organization, network professionals must focus on hard dollar value (e.g. port utilization) to get past CFO hurdle rates. However beyond hard dollars, practitioners must emphasize the benefits to application value, specifically linking network infrastructure to improved service levels, better performance and faster time to deploy application function.