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Taking the fear out of network transformation

By Kevin Kramer, Portfolio Leader, HP AMS Network & Mobility Consulting

 

Kevin_Kramer.jpgIn San Jose, California, there’s an old mansion known as the Winchester Mystery House. It was built by the widow of the gun magnate, who was supposedly told by a medium she must maintain continuous construction to appease spirits that haunted her. Construction continued for 38 years without a master plan until her death in 1922. The result is a rambling mansion of 160 rooms with doors and stairways that lead nowhere.

 

Our networks have become like that. We have added on to them to meet the needs of new applications, new technologies, and organizational restructuring. Unlike the Widow Winchester, we built each “room” of our network to serve some purpose, but we may no longer know what that purpose was or if the need still exists. We have upgraded network hardware over the years for more capacity and performance, but the network is still a rambling mansion with stairs and doors that lead nowhere. It’s difficult to change, and it’s often locked in to a single vendor, limiting choices and driving up costs.

 

What we need instead is a network that is open, that enables vendor choice, and that can more easily adapt to the changing needs of IT and the business. But this is the mansion our company lives in. It’s difficult to renovate, because we don’t know who is using each room. We fear any change will have unexpected results that may disrupt the business.

 

To help our customers through the network transformation they need, we’ve developed a methodology we call the HP Trusted Network Transformation. Others have provided some detail on the process (see Yanick Pouffary’s post on de-risking the journey to SDN and Ron Irvine’s blog Software-defined Networking: trend or fad?), so I want to talk about how it helps take risk and fear out of achieving the transformation that businesses need.

 

One key is to involve all the stakeholders up front. To make sure they understand the change is needed to meet their business needs. To make the plan their plan. And to gain their commitment to making it work. Stakeholders include others in IT—like IT security, desktop, server and storage administrators, those undertaking cloud initiatives, and even third-party providers. But they also include stakeholders in your lines of business—the people for whom the network exists and whose business needs it must serve.

 

Our process begins with a transformation experience workshop that brings stakeholders together in a one-day, slide-free workshop using seven-foot-tall panels to drive the discussion. We facilitate, but you—the network team and your stakeholders—create the content with your needs and your ideas. The result is a roadmap designed to meet current and future business needs that you will own and execute together. As you go down the road implementing the plan, the HP Trusted Network Transformation reduces risk through reliance on piloting and testing new concepts and network changes. And our experts continue down the road with you, bringing experience and best practices they have gained working with hundreds of others who have gone before you. Integral to the whole process is our focus on management of change, ensuring your people are trained on the new technologies and processes are adapted to make the most out of the new network.

 

The pressure to change will increase as employees become more mobile, as customers expect to connect easily via mobile devices and social media, and as business managers seek new business models addressing new markets. For most businesses, transformation is needed to achieve the open, flexible network that can respond to these needs. And the HP Trusted Network Transformation can reduce the risk and uncertainty of your journey, taking the mystery and haunted hallways out of your mansion.

 

If you weren't able to make it to HP Discover 2014 in Las Vegas this month, you can learn about HP Discover 2014 in Barcelona here (December 2-4), and you can also find videos from the Las Vegas event.

 

Kevin Kramer drives HP’s Network and Mobility Consulting business throughout the Americas region. Kevin has more than 20 years experience leading technical consulting organizations and in the delivery of network consulting services. Prior to joining HP, Kevin was the Vice President of Professional Services for ThruPoint, a network consulting services organization.

 

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Tags: Network| SDN
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