Gartner Analysis & Predictions: Enterprise Network Infrastructure and Services

by Bjarne Munch | To Chee Eng | Greg Young | Danellie Young | Vivek Bhalla | Andrew Lerner |Danilo Ciscato of Gartner Group

Overview:

This new Gartner Group report is on the key impacts of digital business, cloud and orchestration strategies. In particular, IT leaders must continue to focus on meeting enterprise needs for expanded WAN connectivity, application performance and improved network agility, without compromising performance.

Key Findings:

  • As enterprises increasingly rely on the internet for WAN connectivity, they are challenged by the unpredictable nature of internet services.
  • Enterprises seeking more agile WAN services continue to be blocked by network service providers’ terms and conditions.
  • Enterprises seeking more agile network solutions continue to be hampered by manual processes and cultural resistance.
  • Enterprise’s moving applications to public cloud services frequently struggle with application performance issues.

Recommendations:

IT leaders responsible for infrastructure agility should:

  • Reduce the business impact of internet downtime by deploying redundant WAN connectivity such as hybrid WAN for business-critical activities.
  • Improve WAN service agility by negotiating total contractual spend instead of monthly or annual spend.
  • Improve agility of internal network solutions by introducing automation of all operations using a step-wise approach.
  • Ensure the performance of cloud-based applications by using carriers’ cloud connect services instead of unpredictable internet services.
  • Improve alignment between business objectives and network solutions by selectively deploying intent-based network solutions.

Strategic Planning Assumptions:

Within the next five years, there will be a major internet outage that impacts more than 100 million users for longer than 24 hours.

  • By 2021, 25% of enterprise telecom contracts will evolve to allow for greater flexibility such as canceling services or introducing new services within the contract period, up from less than 5% today.
  • By 2021, productized network automation (NA) tools will be utilized by 55% of organizations, up from less than 15% today.
  • By YE20, more than 30% of organizations will connect to cloud providers using alternatives to the public internet, which is a major increase from 5% in 3Q17.
  • By 2020, more than 1,000 large enterprises will use intent-based networking systems in production, up from less than 15 today.

Analysis:

Gartner Group has five predictions that represent fundamental changes that are emerging in key network domains, from internal networking to cloud services and WAN services.

two key aspects that the majority of Gartner clients struggle with:

  1. The increased interest in utilizing the internet for WAN connectivity continues to raise concerns about the performance of public internet services and performance of applications deployed in public cloud services. We discuss the risk that enterprises encounter due to the unpredictable nature of the internet, and we discuss how an enterprise can use MPLS to connect directly to public cloud services instead of using the internet.
  2. Enterprises continue to need new business solutions deployed faster, but remain hampered by the inability of network solutions and network services to respond fast enough and rectify performance issues fast enough. We discuss three options to improve network operations as well as network services.
Figure 1. Five Predicts to Create a Better Enterprise Network

Enlarge Image

Source: Gartner (December 2017)

Strategic Planning Assumptions

Strategic Planning Assumption: Within the next five years, there will be a major internet outage that impacts more than 100 million users for longer than 24 hours.

Analysis by: Andrew Lerner, Greg Young

Key Findings:

  • We are increasingly seeing organizations use the internet as a WAN, and estimate that approximately 20% of Gartner clients in many geographic regions have at least some critical branch locations entirely connected via the internet.
  • Most IT teams don’t have a detailed understanding of the multitude of applications and services that are being used on the public internet and/or their criticality. This is because of years of line of business (LOB)-centric buying and the proliferation of SaaS.
  • While the internet is highly resilient, there are specific infrastructure and technology hot spots that, if compromised, could threaten the internet as a whole or large portions of it. This could be the result of natural disasters, man-made accidents or intentional acts.
  • Natural disasters and man-made acts that could impact large portions of the internet include earthquakes, solar flares, electronic pulses, meteors, tsunamis, hurricanes, major cable cuts and network operator errors.
  • Intentional acts include hacktivism, terrorism toward critical infrastructure, and/or coordinated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, attacks against carrier- and ISP-specific components, and protocols (e.g., SS7).

While the probability of each of these events individually is small, the likelihood that at least some of them will occur over an extended period of time is actually surprisingly high. For example, even if there is only a 1% chance that any of the 11 examples identified above results in an outage within a year, there is a statistical likelihood of over 45% that at least one of them will occur over a five-year period. Further, to date, there have been indications that the internet is vulnerable to sizable outages:

  • In 2008, millions of users and large portions of the Middle East and India were impacted by a cable cut. 1
  • In 2016, a large DDOS attack resulted in many large e-commerce sites going down, including Twitter, Netflix, Reddit and CNN. 2
  • In 2015, Telekom Malaysia created a routing problem that rendered much of the Level 3 network unavailable. 3
  • It has been widely reported that 70% of all internet traffic goes thru Northern Virginia 4 and, while this might be an overstated, there’s no doubt that there are several major chokepoints in the internet infrastructure.

Market Implications:

At a minimum, an extended and widespread internet outage would cause dramatic revenue loss for enterprises, and could even create life-threating situations depending on what business the organizations is in. Initially, many organizations often brush this off by saying, “Well there’s not much we can do about it anyway” or “If there is a large internet outage due to a natural disaster, then personal safety is the priority and the enterprise connectivity is the least of our concerns.” However, there are very specific and actionable items that infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders should take to mitigate the impact of a large outage.

Strategic Planning Assumption: By 2021, 25% of enterprise telecom contracts will evolve to allow for greater flexibility such as canceling services or introducing new services within the contract period, up from less than 5% today.

Analysis by: Danellie Young

Key Findings:

  • Enterprise telecom contracts are typically fixed in both term duration and for the services required for procurement.
  • Most larger revenue contracts ($1 million annually) require the enterprise to agree to minimum revenue commitments on an annual basis.
  • Major WAN decisions are made by 31% to 47% of enterprises each year, including equipment refresh or carrier renegotiations (assuming the refresh cycle on routers is six years, and the average enterprise WAN service contract is three years).
  • A large majority of enterprises are struggling with the cost, performance and flexibility of their traditional WAN contracts, further exacerbated by the proliferation of public cloud applications.

Market Implications:

Enterprise telecom contracts remain rigid and fixed, with specified services required to ensure compliance. Typically such contracts penalize customers when services are disconnected midterm. Enterprise telecom contracts are typically negotiated on 36-month cycles, based on either full-term or revenue commitments. Revenue commitments are set based on monthly spend, annual spend or total contract spending. Upon meeting the contract’s revenue commitment, the enterprise can then renegotiate or consider alternative services or providers since their financial obligation has been met. Terminating contracts early for convenience will typically levy penalties on the enterprise. These penalties range from 100% of the monthly recurring charges (MRCs) to a percentage of the MRCs to a declining portion through the remainder of the term (i.e., 100% in the first 12 months, 75% in months 13 to 24 and 50% through the end of the term).

Currently, contracts are split between term and revenue commit contracts, whereby most of the revenue commitments are made on an annualized basis. Alternatively, a small number (5%) are offered or negotiated with total contract values tied to them. Total contract revenue commitments enable the enterprise to meet the obligation earlier in their contract and provide the opportunity to negotiate new lower rates and a new contract, and to solicit competitive proposals before the full 36-month cycle terminates.

In addition to traditional voice and data services, many networking vendors now offer SD-WAN functionality products, while carriers and managed service providers (MSPs) are beginning to launch and roll out managed SD-WAN services as an alternative to managed routers. Contract flexibility will be needed to allow the enterprise the flexibility to migrate to new solutions, without financial risk or paying early termination fees on services. Thus, while we anticipate rapid adoption of SD-WAN and virtualized customer premises equipment (vCPE) solutions in the enterprise, SD-WAN by itself will not improve contractual conditions.

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