The Surprisingly Simple Future of Connecting Your Tech
Remote working, data-hungry voice, video, and Cloud-based applications, and an increasingly mobile workforce are trends that have been growing for years. However, the pandemic accelerated them into the mainstream. So, as workforces are increasingly widespread, staying connected is more important than ever. And the key to achieving all of this is a network that works with your business, not against it.
The Problem with Legacy Networking: Why it’s time to upgrade
Legacy networking can’t keep up with the needs of a modern business. Apart from the initial set-up costs, it can be costly to run, a struggle to meet changing requirements, and off the shelf solutions rarely provide exactly what your business needs.
ngena, a global network-as-a-Service company, empowers businesses to automatically build their own flexible, secure, fully integrated networks – anywhere in the world – and cuts the time to get started from weeks to minutes.
We spoke to ngena’s managing director and CEO, Bart de Graaff, about what inspires him, how ngena manages to provide a unique service – and where the future of connectivity lies for all of us.
You’re motivated by family, nature, and the transformative potential of tech. What is it about these that drives you?
I should show you a picture of my family and you’d understand. My daughters – who I call the Fantastic Four – are my focus. I am blessed with a dynamic family, where change is our only constant.
That’s what appeals me about nature. Outside, you see it evolving on a seasonal basis – it’s not stable. The same applies to technology. Its transformative power attracts and inspires me.
There’s a big ‘as-a-Service’ drive happening across IT. How does ngena fit in to it?
When ngena was born, we wanted to make this the point of our company. We want all we do to be client oriented, to make their experience better, and to deliver everything ‘as-a-Service’. A significant challenge considering the networking industry is often utilizing components that are in themselves not very service driven.
So, we combined and transformed the components into an end-to-end capability, which you can shape how you want and change when you want. ‘as-a-Service’ is the way to consume networks, and the technology is rapidly catching up with that thinking.
ngena is a relatively small company, so how does it feel to be working with Cisco, the global networking leader?
The synergy we’ve found with Cisco is that we can stand on the shoulders of giants. They’re always building and innovating and we are partners with their core business units for networking. Because we’re small and nimble, we can add the flexibility and simplicity clients need to the wonderful technology they create.
Why has building networks been so tricky in the past?
Connectivity in itself is not an easy thing to do. It’s complex and there are no real global players. We decided that, rather than become a global player, we’d work with local telco champions in each country and combine their capabilities in a virtual global network. Using our platform we provide a global homogenous capability, that creates and operates networks based on your intents, without having to worry about technicalities and local specifities.
What are the biggest blockers to setting up a network?
The biggest problem is probably the complexity of migration. It’s a big change and the small fact that your business is 100% dependent on a working network doesn’t make it an easy area to take risk. You need something predictable and controllable that allows you to change traditional technology into new technology without risk. Our cloud platform provides this and reduces the risk of disruptions to its minimum.
When did you realize ngena was going to be a game changer?
The moment I met Marcus Hacke, ngena’s CTO. He has a very, very deep understanding of the real problems that businesses face. He’s lived through it. We knew ngena was going to revolutionize the network as-a-service. It’s simply solving problems many people haven’t even thought about.
What problems with connectivity did you want to fix?
First, the lead time in setting up a network as well as simplifying the complexity in configuration. Secondly, getting end-to-end control over the networking. Third, we look to fix the security gaps that a network inherently brings into any corporation. We wanted to build that security into a network that gives you an end-to-end capability, rather than point solutions.
SD-WAN is the technology at the heart of your solutions, but what are the top reasons businesses need to upgrade their IT Networks with it?
We have seen the adoption of cloud, but its only the beginning. Businesses are moving away from traditional process oriented applications and are adopting a cloud-based approach that focuses on their key asset: data. The availability of the right data at the right time is what makes business successful and the consumption of data needs to be made more flexible and easily adaptable. This explains why transport of data to and from the Edge is so crucial. In 2018-19, the global spend on SD-WAN already started increasing with 90% as business are investing in cloud and data-focussed business. Connectivity has become the defining feature of a modern business.
We take this a step further and package it up with other essential features, such as security, automation, and intelligence, into a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) framework. Essentially, it keeps your data safe, time-intensive manual tasks are automated, and the system learns from your usage to become more efficient.
So, is there an average ngena customer, or can this help any business, anywhere?
Everybody needs to upgrade and align themselves to the new business paradigms. But I see more clients who are very distributed, cloud-centric, or know they need to standardize technology to gain maximium speed and benefits. They’ve got a technology mindset already. Those clients find their way quicker to ngena. The rest are on their way.
The QuickSizer tool helps people configure networks, but is it really as easy as creating a bespoke build and clicking order?
A client asked, ‘I’ve got multiple sites where people work, a couple of datacenters and a majority of people working from home using the Cloud and several home-grown applications. Can you build me network within three minutes? I said, ‘Yes I can.’ The QuickSizer tool let’s anyone do this. You just visit the site, input what you want, and if you like what you see, you can click buy and deploy, you’ve basically got yourself a network. QuickSizer is just one example of how we think simplicity should be brought into networks.
What are your predictions for 2021 and beyond?
Connectivity will be more virtualized. Data-centricity and the connected devices are continuing to grow and with 5G availability will be more structurally embedded into both corporate networks and our lives. All this is going to drive a business model that’s truly connected – and we’ve just seen the start of it.