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Network Agility Requires Culture Change

by Andrew Lerner  |  July 2, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

My colleagues Joe Skorupa and Dennis Smith just published a research note covering important facets of changing networking culture for the better.  The need for culture change is apparent in many of our client interactions, and has been driven by changes in the business.  Simply put

Digital business innovates at the speed of software, while networking has innovated at the speed of hardware, which results in an ever-widening gap between business needs and network capabilities.

This builds upon our “NetOps 2.0” research which is all about taking networks from fragile to agile. Unfortunately, many organizations exhibit a culture of network incrementalism  which has prevented networking from keeping pace with the needs of the business.  Thus, we recommend that senior leaders change how they measure and reward teams by instituting key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with business outcomes. Existing Network KPIs emphasize availability, and network operations are penalized for any outages. This has led to a “lock-it-down” mindset and a resistance to change. However, until KPIs and the associated team performance management and compensation are aligned with the desired outcome — agility — change will not occur. Compensation drives behavior. Example of possible updated KPIs (a few snippets from the research) include

  • Time to deliver new network services, which encourages responsiveness and agility. It is a measure of responsiveness, and covers new services (for example, add a branch office in location x) or a change to an existing service (for example, increases the guaranteed bandwidth for SugarCRM to 20 Gbps).
  • Time to detect (TTD) a failure, which drives adoption of tools that monitor application and network availability in real time.
  • Time to repair (TTR), linking it to TTD; prioritize both over availability. This will drive simplicity, and improve availability, robustness and cost.

You can access the full research note here:

Change How You Fund, Build and Measure to Achieve Network Agility to Support Digital Business

Summary: Digital business demands infrastructure agility, but networking focuses on stability and incremental changes. I&O leaders must change how they recruit, measure and reward team performance, and how they design, build and operate networks to deliver the required agility.

Regards, Andrew

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Category: culture  just-published  networking  staffing  

Tags: netops2-0  

Andrew Lerner
Research Vice President
6+ years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Andrew Lerner is a Vice President in Gartner Research. He covers enterprise networking, including data center, campus and WAN with a focus on emerging technologies (SDN, SD-WAN, and Intent-based networking). Read Full Bio

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