We embrace digital technologies as a normal and persistent part of our lives, and expectations around how digital experiences present value and inspire purchasing decisions are evolving continuously. This digital disruption is so rapid, that many companies are struggling to understand how to respond. Digital transformation requires more than just a mobile app and a website to compete for the modern customer’s attention. In fact, the leaders of the pack have completely retooled their organizational structures, operating models, business processes, technology, skills, and cultures.
Interestingly, younger, tech-centric firms often outpace their larger, established counterparts in the digital transformation arena. Many decades-old banks are struggling to pump out apps and features as fast as they can to compete with cloud and mobile-first disruptors like Square and Stripe, whose business models are almost entirely digital. As these established businesses evolve to compete, the agility they seek requires business service architectures focused on modularization. As a result, applications and services are moving to highly distributed, multi-cloud, interdependent microservices, and APIs.
Truly going digital involves all aspects of a business from customer engagement to fulfillment and everything in between. It encompasses paradigm shifts in systems and process integration and deeply influences strategic decision-making at its core. So where should you begin?
Digital Transformation In Action: It’s All About the Journey
With the immersion of everyday life in internet connectivity, customers typically interact with a company through multiple channels, often making buying decisions based on the perception of simple, seamless usability of channel interaction. If this interaction becomes painful, the customer will often move on to other companies that offer a better experience. In many instances, better customer experience influences buying decisions more strongly than the actual product or service being purchased. Focusing on the highest priority customer experiences (highest potential revenue generation, most complained about, fastest-growing, etc.) and developing modularity surrounding the components of those experiences to allow for agility as market demand changes is a key first step.
While adaptable customer experiences and their underpinning processes are important, business functions must then be enabled in such a way that they too can be modularized and used in multiple places. In today’s world, this is done by implementing isolated, independent microservices. For example, if a customer purchases insurance, one step may require the customer to digitally sign their acceptance. If such a function is presented as a microservice (i.e. modularized), it can be reused in multiple places across many different customer engagement experiences. As digital transformation accelerates, the library of such reusable microservices will continue to grow. As the environment changes, business functions will be updated to meet the new requirements of the ecosystem. If at some point e-signatures are replaced by palm scans, updating the single microservice to meet that need ensures automatic propagation across all places that function is used. This adaptability enables fast and efficient change.
A Cascading Effect
Ideally, the modularity that the organization applies to microservices should be extended into the infrastructure that supports them, allowing for more cost-effective and efficient scalability of high-demand services. Although integration between these systems is key, isolating technology in terms of the business services they provide makes it possible to swap certain modules of technology gradually instead of completely revamping the infrastructure. As a result, cloud virtualization and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) have become the rule, rather than the exception. Making changes and adjustments in these environments is simple, inexpensive, and immediate.
With the constant change in applications and infrastructure, demand for network agility is on the rise, but networks and the equipment that drives them have remained largely unchanged. SD-WANs and similar technologies have introduced some abstraction into site-to-site connectivity, but are often location, hardware, and service-provider specific. The modularity that makes the cloud and microservices so attractive requires a paradigm shift, where network edges are no longer defined by physical locations, but by application endpoints. Enter NetFoundry and application-specific networking (ASN).
With application-specific networking, dependency on private circuits, proprietary hardware, and traditional telco solutions is eliminated. Our technology makes it possible to spin up highly secure, performant, app-specific networks at scale through a centralized, web-based console. These “AppWANs” abstract the network in the same way that containers and virtual machines abstract applications from underlying compute infrastructure. There are three key components that make this possible:
- An administrator uses NetFoundry’s console and APIs to design cloud-native, app-specific networks (AppWANs). AppWANs are programmatically controlled by application contexts and needs. The console and APIs enable the administrator to leverage orchestrators and integrations to enforce their policies, without needing to manage the orchestrator infrastructure itself.
- Each AppWAN is managed by a NetFoundry orchestrator. Each orchestrator manages private network overlays, enabling the administrator to benefit from NetFoundry’s network fabric, without needing to manage the underlying networks. Orchestrators interact with business and application systems such as IAM, IoT identity, and cloud policies to enable each AppWAN to be programmatically controlled by the app contexts and needs.
- NetFoundry’s global network fabric and endpoint software enables secure, reliable networking from anywhere to anywhere. NetFoundry endpoint software connects to the fabric from any Internet connection, extending each AppWAN to the application edge. The software is installed on personal devices, deployed on edges (enterprise, IoT, cloud) as vCPE, and integrated with apps via APIs and SDKs. The software routes each session to the NetFoundry network fabric, and adaptively manages QoE during each session.
Moreover, since digital transformation is a gradual process, NetFoundry gives businesses the ability to meet the needs of the digitally transformed application environment, while interworking with existing networks and systems to continue to serve current needs. As business services are modularized in the transformation, AppWANs can be spun up, segmented, and adjusted in real-time to secure and connect them to the rest of company ecosystem.
To learn more about AppWANs, application-specific networks, and how NetFoundry can simplify your digital transformation, contact us.