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Cloud Assurance ' Digital Transformation from the top down

Michael_Segal_PhotoBy ?Michael Segal, 'Director of Marketing, NETSCOUT

Cloud computing is an enabler that is transforming modern business. It allows new, digital-centric businesses to emerge with a more innovative mindset?and more agility than ever before. Whether a new 'upstart' business like Uber, transforming the taxi industry without owning a single cab; or an established company starting to diversify like General Motors following its investment in Lyft; businesses are evolving rapidly. New business models are disrupting entire industries and changing the way we work and play.

"Digital transformation (DX) affects all businesses, in all sectors"

Digital transformation (DX) affects all businesses, in all sectors. According to research carried out by IDC, one third of the top 20 companies in every industry will have been disrupted by digitally transformed companies by 2018. The message to businesses is clear: embrace disruption or be disrupted.

Enterprises are now on an accelerated modernisation path. Their aim being to maintain, or even extend, their lead as other digital and data driven organisations challenge their status. For established enterprises, this is a particular challenge. They are not start ups that can live in the cloud. They have legacy systems and applications that cannot be virtualized - and customers who rely upon a problem-free delivery of service.

Furthermore, due to governance, compliance, and regulatory (GRC) requirements, some digital assets have to stay on premise. The digital road ahead is far more complicated than simply migrating infrastructure and applications to the cloud.

A multi-faceted problem

The cloud provides enterprises with the agility to increase infrastructure capacity and deploy new services as mandated by business needs with never before seen rapidity. Yet in the process, enterprises may lose visibility and control over data and the quality of service delivery fundamental to its business. It is the role of the CIO to ensure that a business maintains control of its digital assets to ensure continuity of service for its customers.

"It is the role of the CIO to ensure that a business maintains control of its digital assets to ensure continuity of service for its customers"

Cloud options and combinations are seemingly limitless and complicated. Yet they are increasingly used to support enterprise functions and mission critical systems. If an organisation becomes dependent on the cloud to support key aspects of the business, then the CIO needs to have complete visibility across all cloud-based services. It is key that CIOs have dashboards in place that provide real-time analysis of the operational impact of cloud services and applications, to ensure the continued smooth running of the business. Apart from changes to core infrastructure, if lines of business (LOBs) use third party cloud based services, regularly introducing new applications to drive new workflows and efficiency, then the CIO needs to be in the decision-making loop and have the power to align these initiatives with the overall corporate IT strategy.

Successful cloud-based disruption is not only about delivering transformed services; it is about delivering them well. Customer experience is tied to reliable delivery of business services. Satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately corporate performance are affected too. In the Digital Economy, achieving high quality service delivery becomes a mission-critical business activity.

"To deliver innovative business services and a flawless customer experience requires?end?to end service assurance spanning the network edge,?core?and cloud"

However, to deliver innovative business services and a flawless customer experience requires end to end service assurance spanning the network edge, core and cloud. Not forgetting physical, virtual, and hybrid environments too. The challenge is how to monitor activity across the entire infrastructure in real-time, and in particular to identify and analyse service issues. There is increased pressure on IT to reap the benefits of external cloud services, but there is rarely a plan to assure performance and secure the data stored in the cloud. While external providers advertise that they have integrated control, management, and security of respective cloud offerings, businesses should be reluctant to depend on nothing more than trusting that this is the case. It is far better for the CIO to take a proactive approach to assuring service delivery and be able to verify that data is safe, and to do this they need visibility of the entire IT environment.

A foggy outlook for the enterprise

The challenge facing businesses has become more acute, because now, companies rely on a mix of public cloud service providers, private cloud and on-premises legacy technology. With more and more business services relying on the performance of external providers, it's a challenge to pin down the root cause of a service interruption when it occurs, as it relies on the consistent performance of multiple elements along the service delivery path both on and off premises.

"Despite the benefits of this hybrid environment, the reality is that the inherent complexity can cause an enterprise to lose sight of service vulnerabilities"

Despite the benefits of this hybrid environment, the reality is that the inherent complexity can cause an enterprise to lose sight of service vulnerabilities. What is needed is a holistic end-to-end view of the entire service delivery infrastructure. Without this visibility, service failure and even criminal activities, such as advanced threats and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, can go unnoticed. With so much modern business activity reliant on the effective operation of networks, it is vital to be able to identify and address issues quickly and effectively.

Clarity is key to success

The right approach to controlling business outcomes and reducing risk is with a business assurance solution that provides unprecedented insight into service performance and security. This is achieved by continuous end-to-end monitoring and analysis of the traffic data flowing over hybrid cloud networks. The IT organization can then quickly respond to the business by spotting and isolating service delivery issues and any anomalies that may pose a problem to business performance. Translating smart data and real-time analytics into actionable insights is of huge strategic value to the enterprise both in terms of productivity and revenue.

The cloud will be central in the DX transformation of the large majority ' if not all - enterprises over the next decade. The CIO and IT teams needs to be able to manage the quality of each new cloud service and application that is adopted across the business. Every new system supporting the digital value chain must be accounted for and be aligned with the overall DX cloud initiative and enterprise-wide DX strategy.

Digital transformation can be a perilous journey for a business. But with the right solutions and approach, a business can emerge ready to face an increasingly digital world.

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