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The Economics of Inefficiency

by Mark Harris Oct 10, 2023

In every digital connected business, managed service provider, and governmental agency, IT professionals typically focus on the specific technologies that are being put in place and the amazing innovation possible based on leading-edge hardware, software, and cloud-based products. While the chosen technologies are paramount to providing an organization’s desired IT services, it may not be intuitively obvious that the prowess of the operational side of the equation has significantly more bottom-line effect than anything on the technology side. These operational plans define the processes and overhead required to manage and maintain critical network services for decades, so the impact of overlooking the optimization of this key driver can be fiscally catastrophic.

But some background is in order to understand the genesis of the problem. Over the last 25 years, digital infrastructure components have changed dramatically. With a tech refresh cycle of 5 years, every organization has seen dozens of changes to the fundamental technologies in place, including a shift to the public cloud, now accounting for more than 50% of all computing today. Simply put, networks change all the time and the mix of hardware, software and virtual components adds to the complexity.

With all of this technical change, most operational leaders have assumed that the operation of the new technologies must have followed suit and advanced over time. It was and continues to be a bad assumption. In fact, O&M plans have basically remained unchanged for decades! It’s the dirty little secret of IT and specifically the issue that has led to much higher costs and risk. And because this mis-alignment has grown slowly over that period of time, it has not drawn attention to the magnitude of the growing NetOps efficiency problem.

How can we spot this inefficiency? Here are some examples of the kind of costly problems seen when outdated operational plans are still in use:

  • More frequent network service disruptions, network outages and service degradations
  • Longer incident duration, larger populations of affected users, and longer remediation times
  • Increased security risks, “hidden” vulnerabilities and audit and compliance failures
  • Lower available computing capacity, degraded application response times
  • Higher Infrastructure carrying costs (including warranty) for devices no longer present.
  • Reduced customer satisfaction and retention, valuation and overall reputation impacts
  • Limited resources, higher staffing costs, mismatched skill sets, and increased escalations

At the end of the day, it all boils down to cost. We no longer live in a tech world where over-provisioning and building capacity for future use is an acceptable plan. Today, the savviest IT professionals think and build incrementally, always keeping an eye on the total burdened cost of service delivery per unit of work. And when they think about service delivery costing in this fashion, the efficiency of the entire operating envelope becomes a key line item in their plan.

So the actual math kind of matters, so let’s put it all in this one paragraph. Business as usual and status quo approaches can no longer be fiscally defended. By updating network O&M processes to become more efficient, organizations can align their service delivery goals with the value of each to the business. In a 2022 study by Gartner, they found that organizations that implemented modern network O&M process improvements were able to achieve average service delivery cost savings of more than 15% per year. To be crystal clear, this is a total savings for service delivery, not just an operations-only cost savings! So when organizations become efficient in IT service delivery, they reduce their IT costs by 15%. CIO Magazine surveyed IT leaders and found that the IT budget for large enterprise is typically about 4%-5% of revenues, so a 2 billion dollar enterprise might spend $80-$100 Million on IT, which could be reduced by 15% or $12-$15 Million per year by fundamentally streamlining their NetOps efficiency function.

With the compelling math behind us, it’s time to start discussing what specifically can be done to deliver IT services more efficiently. Far and away the most impactful opportunity is to leverage network automation. Network automation has largely been untapped over the years as it was considered complex and expensive and when developer-based, typically failed to deliver significant results. NetBrain has changed all of that with its fourth generation of simple-to-use, no-code network automation called Next-Gen.

Next-Gen can automate all of the repeatitive manual tasks involved in hybrid network infrastructure management, such as network configuration, outage prevention, assessment, and diagnostic troubleshooting. By leveraging NetBrain, your existing subject matter expertise and their best practices that have been refined for years are simply captured by NetBrain, replicated to the entire network, and then put into action automatically at scale. It’s like doubling your IT support engineering staff with the push of a button. The effect is your team solves any problem once, and then the machine solves all subsequent occurances automatically.

Here are some specific examples of the savings that can be achieved by updating your network O&M plan with NetBrain Next-Gen:

  • Reduced labor costs: By automating repetitive and diagnostic network tasks and streamlining processes, organizations can significantly reduce the amount of labor required to manage their networks. This can lead to significant savings in payroll, training, and retention costs.
  • Improved network performance: By proactively validating service delivery, organizations can identify and resolve network problems before they cause outages or performance degradation. This can lead to improved network performance, uptime, capacity, and overall performance.
  • Reduced security risks: By implementing automated security verification for every security-oriented architectural requirement across the entire network, organizations can defend their entire footprint. This supports an organization’s ongoing viability.
  • Elimination of older, abandoned, and retired hardware, software, and services through continuous automated inventory and assessment. Components that are no longer in production are quickly identified and can be eliminated from warranty and support contracts.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: By verifying reliable and high-performance network services that directly support mission-critical business applications, organizations can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. This can lead to increased revenue and profitability.

And it’s not just theory. Some specific examples of how organizations have achieved savings by updating their network O&M processes:

  • A large multinational telecommunications company was able to reduce its network downtime by 50% by implementing a proactive intent-based assessment system.
  • A financial services company was able to reduce its security costs by 25% by implementing continuous automated network assessment of boundary and control surfaces
  • A retail company was able to improve its customer satisfaction by 10% by implementing automated application path performance verification
  • A European-based pharmaceutical organization was able to reduce its annual downtime by almost 30% by using automated failover and resilience assessment – essentially testing the proper operation of failover plans before those plans were needed for production services.

Every organization is different, so the specific savings will vary depending on the specific processes that are being updated. However, it is clear that updating network O&M processes from the state they have been in for decades is both prudent and just plain common sense- and will lead to significant savings for organizations of all sizes. NetBrain Next-gen is that platform to automate the experience of your existing subject matter experts.

So now is the time to update YOUR organization’s network O&M processes with NetBrain which can become the foundation for everything you do operationally going forward. In doing so, this will adjust your service delivery cost structures to be much more closely aligned with the specific needs of the business. Steps to be taken:

  • Identify your most important processes: Not all network O&M processes are created equal. Some processes are more critical to your network’s performance and security than others. Start by identifying your most important processes and focus on automating those first.
  • Assess your existing workflows: Once you have identified your most important processes, use NetBrain’s no-code interface to capture your best practices. This will help you to identify key areas in that workflow that are most repetitive and that can be optimized through automation.
  • Re-engineer existing workflows: Once you have identified areas for improvement, leverage automation to augment the human element. Repetitive tasks and labor-intensive can be automated quite easily with NetBrain Next-Gen.
  • Share knowledge: Once you have implemented new automation-centric workflows, enable this expertise to be leveraged by everyone in your organization. Collaboration solves problems faster, so NetBrain’s collaboration features streamline the operational envelope.

Updating network O&M workflows can be a complex and time-consuming task, however, doing so with NetBrain Next-Gen will have lasting benefits for generations to come. It is a strategic investment that will pay off much faster than any other investment in technology you may consider. By updating your core operational workflows, you will achieve significant savings in terms of time, money, and resources, and improve the performance, security, and reliability of your network.