Enabling the Distributed Enterprise

By: Mary Stanhope

The way organizations store and utilize data has undergone a transformation, especially in recent months. Driven by increased use of web-based applications, more remote workforces, and the incorporation of new data-intensive technologies, the importance of data and its ability to flow seamlessly across the enterprise IT architecture has grown substantially. As this evolution continues, business footprints are becoming more distributed and IT architectures are incorporating a growing number of partners and platforms in service of expanding data mobility, availability, security, and accessibility demands. One key element of this digital transformation — the cloud — is exhibiting strong growth as a solution to these requirements. One survey notes that in 2020, 81 percent of technology decision-makers indicated that their company already used at least one cloud application or relied on some cloud infrastructure.

With business becoming more digital and distributed, connectivity arises as a key challenge — especially as the rate of these transformations accelerates. Existing IT complexity is being compounded by shifts to remote workforces in the wake of a global health crisis (a Gallup poll taken in October 2020 observed that while some employees were returning to on-site operations, remote work is still largely ongoing). Taking these factors into account, it is clear that while connectivity is more crucial than ever, ensuring it is extended to all business endpoints is becoming a more involved task.

Despite the advantages that hybrid frameworks, cloud-based solutions, remote work, and new web-based applications are delivering, making these disparate elements connect is becoming a more challenging task. In an era when business depends on data flowing easily from on-premises locations to at-home devices, third-party data centers, web-based applications, cloud platforms, and beyond, it is clear the enterprise network needs to be reinvented. The question now comes down to what the networks and connectivity solutions of the future will look like.

SaaS driving digital business

The widely recognized uptick in cloud computing adoption is particularly apparent in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) arena, which remains the largest cloud market segment and was forecast to grow to $104.7 billion in 2020. In fact, reports have noted that in 2020, it was expected that 29 percent of workload deployment would come from SaaS and hosted applications, which include platforms like Salesforce, Dropbox, Slack, and DocuSign. This SaaS concentration, and the larger focus on cloud, is being strengthened by a number of drivers. Some of the primary reasons that businesses turn to cloud-based solutions are to cut costs and limit complexity. These two factors increase pressure on business operations as IT evolves to offer more capabilities and accommodate more data than ever before.

SaaS solutions enable enterprises to shift the complexity and costs of managing software out of house. In these cases, there is no internal time or resources taken for initial software or hardware installations, and there are no ongoing tasks associated with updates or other maintenance. Instead, businesses get to focus purely on reaping the benefits. At the same time, SaaS providers’ core competency is ensuring the utmost availability, reliability, security, and performance for the consumers, meaning that the enterprise can rest assured it is getting the best and most successful outcomes at a reasonable cost.

SaaS and other cloud solutions offer the ability to customize, allowing businesses to adjust their IT frameworks to suit their own unique digital transformations and growth trajectories. The cloud also offers high levels of accessibility and data mobility — both prized assets in the digital economy. With remote workforces becoming central to operations and business models becoming more flexible, the ability to access mission-critical data and systems from any device and at any time with one simple Internet connection represents a powerful but necessary foundation.

The challenges of a distributed enterprise

While increased cloud and platform integration solves many of the enterprise’s current roadblocks, it also creates new challenges that must be overcome. Where complexity is mitigated in some areas, it is also exaggerated in others — namely, complexity that comes with incorporating more and more disparate elements into the IT framework. With each new partner and platform that is integrated, the underlying network is being stretched to its limit.


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