This is a guest post from IDC Analyst Brad Casemore.

Modern applications are more distributed than ever before, deployed variously across on-premises data centers, public clouds (IaaS), private clouds, and edge locations, and sometimes delivered as SaaS. While the primacy of these data-centric applications is undeniable and will only grow with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a failure to ensure the modernization of underlying network infrastructure can compromise and constrain an organization’s application-driven digital strategies. 

Needs of today 

Network modernization, especially within the context of cloud-native architectures and multi-cloud strategies, cannot be an afterthought for rapidly digitizing enterprises. As applications become the powerhouse behind digital success and competitive differentiation, organizations should consider investing in software-defined network infrastructure.  

A software-defined network infrastructure provides consistent network and security policies, operational simplicity, elastic scale, and ubiquitous visibility, with support for traditional and cloud-native applications spanning on-premises environments and clouds. 

Preparing for tomorrow 

Special consideration also must be given to the future networking needs of the organization, particularly in relation to how modern network infrastructure will provide inherent portable application layer networking for cloud-native applications through functionality such as ingress controllers, service meshes, and visibility into workloads and microservices. 

The demands associated with network modernization can appear overwhelming. Enterprises often find it difficult to obtain the skills needed to keep pace with fluid and fast-moving cloud environments that demand extensive automation to achieve greater agility and flexibility. A related challenge involves optimizing IT processes and staff productivity. Further, there is the new challenge of implementing consistent security and access control policies across a hybrid IT and multi-cloud application landscape.