This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Andrés Irlando, President of Zayo Group
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a shift online. Some businesses adopted digital tools for the first time, while many others significantly increased their reliance on technology.
For example, telemedicine became the primary source of doctor-patient communication and distributing essential services like mental health counseling. Manufacturers increased their usage of artificial intelligence in the supply chain to streamline processes and combat a decreased workforce. Click-and-collect became the norm in shopping, as safety and convenience took priority.
Additionally, existing technologies were also used in new ways. For instance, businesses have been using video conferencing platforms, like Zoom and Skype, for many years. But it wasn’t until shelter-in-place orders were implemented that Zoom and Skype were used for everything from work happy hours to congressional hearings.
Unfortunately, with this increased reliance on virtual connectivity in 2020 came strained networks, which threatened to disrupt business operations. But with the digital evolution showing no signs of slowing down, it’s clear digital transformation is not just an option at this point — which means enterprises need infrastructure to support a digital-first world.
But how is that infrastructure selected?
The Importance of the Cloud
Organizations should select network infrastructure built for an era of cloud-native, cloud-deployed technologies. In an increasingly dispersed world, data needs to travel edge-to-cloud quickly and securely. Enterprises are increasingly building out on the branch edge and collecting valuable data that informs consumer habits, business strategy and more. As more business is conducted online, more extensive quantities of data are being collected. Although some of the tools adopted during the pandemic aren’t net-new, emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, blockchain and augmented reality rely on modernized cloud infrastructure with high security, high bandwidth and low latency. Plus, the vast web of devices that make up the Internet of Things and the global deployment of 5G networks will require a more robust communications infrastructure.
Operating a robust cloud infrastructure that takes data where it needs to go when it needs to get there will separate successful enterprises from their competitors. Some enterprises employ a single-cloud strategy; some use a hybrid-cloud approach; others, a multi-cloud strategy. Regardless of the approach, a reliable, high-throughput, low-latency network is necessary to support cloud networks. Fiber offers those benefits, connecting the vast puzzle that is the digital ecosystem.
The Power of Fiber Connectivity
Fiber connectivity goes edge-to-core, edge-to-cloud, edge-to-edge and everywhere in between.
With this in mind, the transition from a legacy network infrastructure to a modern cloud-based infrastructure is a necessary one, but one that doesn’t come easily for many enterprises. Four key questions need to be answered:
- Can you quickly adapt to changing markets and dynamic conditions?
- Do you have access to analytics to evaluate customer and employee needs?
- How do you balance security with an improved customer experience?
- Will you be able to evolve your business model while managing costs?
Both dark and lit fiber networks offer the infrastructure solutions to solve these issues and more.
The Role of Dark Fiber
The only user of a dark fiber network is you, which means control, visibility and security are in your hands. A diverse network is a strong network, and when you can control every aspect of the infrastructure, you can maintain low latency and minimize downtime. End-to-end transparency and security are crucial in a cloud-first environment with so much sensitive data going between the edge, core and cloud. For example, hackers won’t hesitate to target your company with a ransomware attack.
The power of a dark fiber network is virtually unlimited, which can futureproof your network for unexpected changes. A cloud-first, digital world demands scalability and agility to adapt to a dynamic market. When you need more bandwidth, it’s as simple as an equipment upgrade. This also lends itself to cost-effectiveness because a one-time CapEx spend adds the additional bandwidth your organization needs to compete.
The Role of Lit Fiber
When convenience, speed and ease of adoption are top priorities, lit fiber delivers. It’s more available and accessible than most other data transfer methods, and the availability of turnkey fiber connectivity can be the difference between success and failure when you need to get up to speed fast. The onus of maintaining and operating any equipment falls on the network provider, which decreases the burden of technical and administrative work on the shoulders of your IT teams. With those resources freed up, your teams can work on strategic initiatives in other areas to grow the business.
Act Today for Success Tomorrow
Enterprises can no longer ignore digital transformation — it is a determinant of long-term success or failure. But not all digital transformation strategies are created alike, and you have to ask important questions of your organization to ensure your strategy is headed in the right direction:
- What are the market drivers, and how might they change in the short and long term?
- Where can we digitize to enhance our operations?
- What is our digital strategy?
- Will our cloud strategy fit seamlessly with our digital strategy?
Asking these questions today will lead you to the right infrastructure and drive success tomorrow.
About the Author:
Andrés Irlando is President of Zayo Group. He has held senior leadership positions in the communications infrastructure industry for almost 20 years. Previously, Andrés spent 15 years at Verizon, holding a variety of leadership roles.
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