Level 3 Communications

Shaun Andrews

Hybrid Connectivity: A Foundation for Digital Transformation

Any organization looking to improve business outcomes should be thinking about digital transformation. While the term has become something of a buzzword, digital transformation isn’t a gimmick or a fad. It has the potential to generate real benefits for companies that take the time to craft and execute a strategy that leverages new and existing digital assets for operational and customer-service enhancements.

Done right, digital transformation starts with a deep look within — a kind of corporate soul-searching, if you will — to determine how each application, database and hardware system currently supports the business and how it can do so better. An essential component of the assessment is connectivity – is it at least adequate for your current needs and likely to support future infrastructure, architecture and applications requirements?

Connectivity is often treated as an afterthought in major enterprise projects. But when we’re talking about the type of profound change that digital transformation and the Internet of Things (IoT) promise to deliver, connectivity components could put everything else at risk: If you can’t reliably and securely connect sites, people and machines, it won’t matter how good your applications, databases and machines are. They simply won’t run at their best.

But making large bandwidth investments can be expensive, which poses a conundrum for some organizations. That’s why enterprises are turning to hybrid connectivity solutions. This approach ensures reliable, scalable and secure bandwidth to support a company’s digital transformation endeavors.

Hybrid connectivity works whether you’re using MPLS, private or public internet connections, cellular networks, Wi-Fi, Ethernet or cable to connect your devices, locations and users. In fact, a myriad of options work in concert to provide dynamic bandwidth that boosts business agility through advanced network responsiveness.

As such, hybrid connectivity is foundational to your digital transformation initiatives by enabling the optimization of your digital assets.

Tangible Benefits

Organizations that already have turned to hybrid connectivity are enjoying tangible benefits. For instance, a sustainable technologies company looking to improve application performance and network-wide visibility shifted from self-managed, regional networks across more than 30 countries to a single platform delivering global availability, WAN optimization and application performance management.

To optimize performance, future-proof the business and mitigate security risks, the company now employs direct, private connections to a public internet infrastructure and a cloud-based security solution that adapts to new threats as they emerge. The upshot is the company can make better use of its existing digital assets and set itself up for future needs by tapping the cloud to scale up whenever necessary.

In another case, an auto-service supplier wanted to increase network availability and uptime as it made the transition to a cloud-based Office 365 solution and new back-office systems for inventory, CRM and ordering. The company was using multiple T1 lines that couldn’t effectively handle the increased bandwidth as users in 95 locations accessed new cloud resources such as Office 365 and video training. 

A hybrid connectivity solution — combining 4G/LTE, broadband internet connections, MPLS and voice — delivered the performance and reliability the company needed. Network efficiency increased substantially as a result of routing critical traffic over T1 MPLS while the remaining traffic flows over broadband connections. Overall, the company now boasts improved network availability, performance and security.

Creating a Better Company

At its core, digital transformation aims to build a better company — one that works better, is better to work in and better to do business with. Digital transformation is about automating whatever systems can be automated to drive efficiency and minimize errors. It’s about optimizing digital assets to give employees instant access to applications anytime, anywhere, so they can do their jobs better. And, it’s about providing better service, thereby inspiring customers to come back again and again. This translates to brand loyalty and bottom-line improvements.

But you can’t get there without a reliable network that evolves with your organization’s needs. Hybrid connectivity provides the foundational blocks and helps prepare your network for the future.