The Importance of Network Advisory and Assessment in Transformation and How to Go About It
Jun 13, 2023

The Importance of Network Advisory and Assessment in Transformation and How to Go About It


Why Network Assessment?

The pandemic underscored the importance of IT technology in general and network technology in particular. The focus during the pandemic was on enabling remote access for WFX model, productivity of employees, and collaboration in the new world order.

Enterprises who focused on technology were able to navigate the transition relatively effectively compared to those whose focus and investments in technology were limited. In light of the pandemic, CIOs and CTOs have gained a heightened awareness of the significance of technology, regardless of its previous state within their enterprises. This is the case for operations too. The ability to operate dynamically and optimize operations during the pandemic tested the BCP robustness of enterprises and their partners. Enterprises are determined to avoid another tumultuous journey as they embark on adopting new network technology and modernizing their operations. As per Gartner >50% of digital initiatives don’t meet expectations because they take too long to complete and/or take too long to realize value. While these 2 experiences have largely influenced enterprises to undertake Network Advisory and Assessment Services, there are a few other factors to consider.

  • The constant evolution of existing/recent technology like Zero Trust and a spurt of new technologies like 5G, AR/VR, and associated areas requires enterprises to perceive networks beyond the current realm of connectivity. Enterprises need a partner to assess the applicability of new technology and its use cases in line with business goals.
  • Increased digitization and cloud adoption means that most critical information and assets are everywhere. Enterprises need the expertise to envisage this inter-op and performance to transform and manage with adequate safeguards to protect their IP.   
  • The operations landscape is transforming with the emergence of advanced tools that go beyond traditional monitoring and visibility. A prime example is the integration of Observability and AIOps, offering enterprises unprecedented capabilities. Similarly, the advancement of open-source ecosystems and thriving communities allows enterprises to leverage DevOps for Networks. How can one adopt/maximize these new tools and technologies for modernizing operations?
  • Network is the foundational infrastructure element that allows all other infrastructure stacks to inter-operate. Any impact on the network impacts the business and is expensive to fix. The performance of the network and response to impacting events is central to business productivity and customer enablement. This means enterprises must eliminate/minimize operational inefficiencies, uncover glaring security holes, and reduce technical debt like sub-optimal traffic patterns and asset aging.  

How should enterprises approach an assessment?

1. State the business goals/challenges clearly to the Service provider

Before getting into assessment, enterprises need to state explicitly what problems they want to solve, and what business goals they want to achieve. Knowing the desired state helps the provider identify the relevant gaps and structure the roadmap to reach the state.

The importance of establishing clear desired outcomes cannot be overstated when it comes to enterprises engaging in advisory or transformation initiatives. A great example of desired metric clearly articulated could be:

  • Business Outcome – Service to a certain number of customers within the duration
  • Business Metric – Faster Customer Transactions à Number of seconds to complete a transaction at a store
  • Network Metric - Time lost due to varying network performance

2. Choose the right type of assessment

Enterprises should look for assessment services to cater to definite areas of technology and operations. Specific use cases could be transforming to SDWAN+SASE or lack of automation or co-relating network performance to business value. The availability of modular options eliminates ambiguity, leading to tangible and actionable outcomes.

3. Reports and Artifacts

Often, enterprises receive reports containing high-level findings without substantial and detailed artifacts, leaving them uncertain about the next steps.

To avoid this, it is crucial to establish clear expectations at the onset of an assessment, outlining the desired number and type of reports, artifacts, and coverage areas. Here is an illustrative example of the minimum outcomes that enterprises can expect from Network Advisory and Assessment Services.

4. Capability to extend to remediation

Many enterprises can generate ideas and concepts but not everyone can pull off a plan. Before embarking on the assessment enterprises should assess the track record and capability of partners in transitioning recommendations in the reports into executable actions. Once executed the outcomes and KPIs should be evaluated against:

        a. what was articulated by the enterprises and

        b. recommendations made by the providers.

Enterprises should be able to identify and capture tangible top-line and bottom-line impacts against the outcomes asked/defined.

The Microland way

Microland’s network assessment framework is conducted in 5 stages which includes 3 stages of assessment followed by remediation. Before the 1st stage, we evaluate customer expectations and agree on the assessment’s length, defined scope, and so on. The 5 stages are as below:

  1. Discover – Understand the current state of the enterprise’s network, business goals, and challenges
  2. Deduce – Inferences through the analysis of information and evidence gathered
  3. Define – Solution recommendations based on the inferences in the previous stage, and Implementation/ Remediation roadmap
  4. Execute – Implement the recommendations
  5. Evolve – Fine-tune and course-correct

Our assessment methodology is powered by our in-house solution, Intelligeni NetOps Platform. The platform integrates with existing tools, devices, and CMDB of the enterprise. As part of the discovery process, it can pull information like configuration, performance standards, and capacity levels in an automated fashion. We back up automated information gathering with interviews to capture an exhaustive level of detail.

Due to automation, we can quickly turn the information gathered into meaningful insights, thus accelerating the deduction process. A few examples include understanding your capacity utilization and comparing it against the benchmark to deduce the performance. Likewise, we can examine performance metrics when assessing application access from each branch, comparing them against pre-defined performance benchmarks within the tool to provide an accurate status representation.

Our approach involves integrating the insights derived from our platform with the expertise of our team. What sets our assessment apart is the minimal involvement required from the operations team, thanks to the significant utilization of Microland's Intelligeni Bots and automation assets, streamlining the process.

The findings are meticulously captured, documented, and quantified, aligning with the relevance of Maslow's hierarchy in how our inferences and discoveries are structured and organized. This principle applies to both maturity assessments and gap identification across technical and operational domains. Recognizing that solid fundamentals, such as standards and documentation, are essential, we ensure that each layer of the pyramid stack receives our utmost attention, including standards, security, compliance, availability, agility, and ultimately, performance. As a result, enterprises receive a clearly defined, prioritized, and critically-ranked list of findings, along with actionable plans for the next steps.

In order to foster a harmonious integration of digital initiatives and operational simplicity that drives tangible business outcomes, customers require a partner who prioritizes a digital-first mindset and emphasizes delivering results rather than just deliverables. Microland, a trusted partner for enterprises, brings extensive experience in providing a wide range of assessment services across various industry verticals.

Microland's distinctive platform-driven approach integrates industry standards and best practices, establishing a standardized assessment methodology that can extend seamlessly to transformation initiatives based on recommendations and operations. Prioritizing customer-centric solutions and a steadfast dedication to excellence, we have forged enduring customer partnerships. Going beyond the traditional vendor-client dynamic, we have become a trusted ally, propelling their business transformation forward with our comprehensive range of solutions.