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SMEs should no longer ignore the benefits of true network management

SMEs should no longer ignore the benefits of true network management

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A DDI solution manages DNS, DHCP and IP addresses and can be an incredibly useful tool for a growing business. Magnus Bjornsson, CEO of Men&Mice, explains the benefits of adopting DDI solutions and how services have grown for SMEs.

Network transformation cannot be treated as a luxury only to be enjoyed by large enterprise organisations. Generally, up until now, SMEs have depended on manual records and spreadsheets to maintain their networks, due to budget constraints or logistical hurdles. However, with remote working set to be a longer running fixture for SMEs (and therefore bringing a proliferation of mobile devices), as well as the rise of IPv6, the complexity of even SMEs’ networks will increase, and the benefits of adopting network management solutions and services has grown hugely.

The complexity of SME networks is exacerbated further as SMEs leverage cloud providers to improve their operations. SMEs that do not embrace rapid digitalisation, or do so in a haphazard fashion, risk falling behind their competitors and being beset by a range of digital issues, such as outages or the inability to manage increased redundancy in a simple and scalable way.

The Digital Transformation project in SMEs, when managed correctly, should be a company-wide mission, transforming every process and area of operations. The term ‘Digital Transformation’ is used a lot today and its meaning has shifted from hardwired and hardware driven infrastructure, to increasingly ubiquitous cloud technologies and Software Defined Networks. These new technologies to the SME sector allow businesses to adapt and scale at an accelerated pace.

Managing a new transformation project in an SME is a complex process, however, especially as the IT infrastructure supporting company operations becomes increasingly complicated. After all, there are many emergent technologies that forward-thinking businesses should consider pursuing to enhance their operations – examples include IoT, new operations methodologies like NetOps and DevOps, virtualisation and the growth in microservices and Edge Computing, as well as increased automation that is key to scaling and increased reliability.

Despite the complexity they bring, these new technologies and methodologies spur the evolution of company networks and enable businesses to move beyond the constraints of legacy systems that have hitherto limited Digital Transformation in SMEs. The key to managing the inherent complexity of these technologies and securing their full benefit lies in DDI – a holistic form of IP address management.

How can DDI help SMEs?

As SMEs experience growth through mergers and acquisitions, and ideally market success, their comparatively small IT teams have to add new IP addresses to the network as the business expands, as well as manage the topology of these networks. These IP addresses are the foundational segments of the network when it comes to ensuring optimised functionality and their management is essential in keeping complicated digital infrastructure in working order. However, this is no small task, especially with trillions of new IP addresses becoming available under the IPv6 protocol.

It is a rule of thumb in business that over-complexity can stifle company growth, and SMEs with ambitions to expand will require agile, simple and sustainable solutions to their network management to maintain ROIs at acceptable levels.

A DDI solution manages DNS, DHCP and IP addresses and can be an essential tool for SMEs looking to grow their business or embrace Digital Transformation. While the quality of equipment and technology which businesses employ enables network capability and capacity, it is DDI that boosts both the efficiency and security attributes of the network.

This being the case, it is essential for DDI to take a pivotal position in SMEs looking to begin their Digital Transformation journey. At this important stage of growth, the right choice of DDI solution is of critical importance to the success of the transformation project, as the consequences of making the wrong choice can impact for years. This is because as an SME grows, so too will the assigned IP addresses and if the system is ill-suited, issues in the IT infrastructure will become deeply ingrained without an easy fix. Over time, this will lead to IT issues such as latency in the network, which can severely impact the customer experience, or even entire outages. Failing to adequately manage IP address networks also prevents companies from managing increased redundancy in a simple and scalable way.

On the other hand, the right DDI solution choice can offer a compounding return on technological investments, as well as future-proof SME infrastructure for inevitable new technologies that will enhance business operations. Whether through increasing network efficiency, bolstering network security or establishing long-term sustainability in its operations, a well-chosen DDI should impact more than just the core DNS, DHCP and IPAM it is specifically designed to handle. If a business invests in a scalable, resilient DDI solution, it can expect to see a similarly robust ROI.

Choosing the right DDI

The importance of selecting the right DDI cannot be overstated, especially as there is no immediate way of knowing whether the right choice has been made. SMEs forging towards network transformation must therefore make this decision analytically and with an eye to the future.

It is vital to assess what network infrastructure is already in place and evaluate how well, or not, the proposed solution integrates with these existing resources and whatever new solutions are earmarked on the Digital Transformation roadmap. After all, Digital Transformation is not a one-time event, and a business will have to account for how the infrastructure will hold up when the business processes move to (or from) the cloud, and how well it will scale when the business has grown in size.

For the expanding SME, the best DDI solution should be thoroughly flexible with open, extendable architecture. This will help any future integration with private and hybrid clouds, virtualisation, bring your own technology (BYOT), IoT and other emerging technological innovation. BYOT has been especially important for SMEs with the work from home conditions of the pandemic pushing many personal devices on to the company network. Given the investment towards a DDI solution, companies need to be sure that their chosen model is well suited to a rapid pace of change – business expansion and future technological integration will count on it.

A security perspective

Perhaps one of the most persuasive arguments for the roll-out of DDI among SMEs is that of improving network security. Despite being smaller targets, SMES are not immune from cyberattack, and may even be specifically targeted as a more enticing victim if the company collects high value information or is thought to be ill prepared because of a small cybersecurity budget.

The current cybersecurity threat to organisations is at a fever pitch with 46% of UK small businesses suffering a cyberattack in 2020 according to a government survey. The need for security measures will continue to be essential for SMEs with the rise of IoT platforms and BYOD. In the face of these challenges, DDI gives full visibility into the DNS server, allowing companies to identify and prevent DNS attacks by identifying vulnerabilities in existing infrastructure.

Visibility into the DNS server allows SMEs to circle the wagons and close any gaps through which a cybercriminal might strike – for example, through out-of-date network components or poorly structured architecture. A good DDI will bolster the network foundation through smart, optimised alignment of IP address infrastructure, which can contribute more to overall network security than most add-on security features.

Network transformation should be the foundation of SME business growth

Ultimately, the end goal of DDI is to better manage the inevitable complexity that arises across the network as new technologies and users are integrated into it and as businesses expand. A robust DDI solution allows for the future integration of innovation, giving the edge to early SME adopters over their competitors. Following business expansion, SMEs employing DDI will also grow their network infrastructures in a streamlined framework, thereby avoiding embarrassing IT issues such as outages. Lasty, DDI protects both companies and their customers from the ever-present threat of cyberattack arising from the DNS layers. For SME leaders looking to chart the course towards Digital Transformation, these important arguments for implementing a DDI strategy should not be ignored.

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