Advanced networking technologies such as Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), 5G and edge computing are revolutionizing IT Service Management (ITSM).

Collectively, these advanced networking technologies—SD-WAN, 5G, and edge computing—are transforming ITSM by enhancing connectivity, reducing latency and supporting the growing demands of a distributed workforce and work from home (WFH) initiatives adopted by most organizations.

These advanced networking technologies provide the necessary infrastructure to handle the increasing complexity and scale of modern IT environments, enabling organizations to deliver high-quality IT services with greater efficiency and reliability.

Renuka Nadkarni, chief product officer at Aryaka, explained advanced networking technologies like SD-WAN, 5G and edge computing are transforming ITSM practices by enabling agile, resilient and scalable infrastructures and facilitating faster service and application deployment.

“These are critical attributes demanded by a distributed enterprise, and ITSM practices must keep up with these demands,” she explained.

Benefits of SD-WAN

When it comes to SD-WAN, an application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology applied to WAN connections, enhancements to performance and reliability of network services are achieved through centralized control to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the WAN.

This approach optimizes the use of available bandwidth, improves application performance and ensures a seamless user experience by dynamically routing traffic based on real-time conditions and pre-defined policies.

The advanced nature of SD-WAN lies in its ability to provide granular control over traffic, prioritize critical applications and quickly adapt to changing network conditions, making it an essential tool for modern ITSM.

“SD-WAN solutions offer ITSM benefits by optimizing connectivity through intelligent routing, enhancing network performance and reducing latency through dynamic traffic management and prioritization mechanisms,” Nadkarni explained.

She noted with SD-WAN separating the control plane from the data plane, a distributed data plane that enforces network policies and applies network and application optimization closest to the hybrid workforce can further add to the benefits of deploying an SD-WAN solution.

Jeff Aaron, group vice president of product marketing at Juniper Networks, said this capability is crucial across a broad spectrum of sectors, be it retail, health care or government, reflecting its universal applicability and paramount importance.

He explained unlike the traditional tunnel-based networks, which can significantly prolong downtime and surge the volume of trouble tickets due to their slower failover processes, tunnel-free SD-WAN architectures ensure a seamless transition during failover scenarios.

“This not only remains imperceptible to the end-users but also greatly enhances bandwidth efficiency,” Aaron said.

Such improvements lead to reduced network congestion and notably better application performance, marking a significant leap forward in the quest to refine IT infrastructure and service quality.

5G Boosts Speed, Reduces Latency

The fifth generation of mobile network technology known as 5G, offers unprecedented speed and low latency, which are crucial for real-time applications and services.

The high bandwidth and low latency of 5G enable faster data transfer and improved responsiveness, which are essential for the efficient operation of ITSM tools and services.

This technology supports a higher density of connected devices, facilitating the management of a vast array of IoT devices and sensors.

The advanced capabilities of 5G also enhance mobile workforce connectivity, ensuring that employees have reliable and fast access to corporate resources regardless of their location.

“It can support a distributed workforce within ITSM frameworks by providing high-speed, low-latency connectivity, enabling seamless collaboration, and facilitating remote access to critical applications and resources,” Nadkarni explained.

This improved connectivity is vital for maintaining productivity and ensuring seamless IT service delivery in a distributed work environment.

“5G technology is an important piece of overall connectivity choice and enabler,” she said.

From Aaron’s perspective it is all about flexibility and giving users consistent experiences from anywhere.

“5G is just another way to connect,” he said. “If it goes to the same cloud, same AI-engine, and is part of the same AI-native paradigm, it delivers the value customers need.”

Living on the Edge (Computing)

Edge computing, which involves processing data closer to the source of data generation rather than relying on centralized data centers, reduces latency and bandwidth usage by localizing data processing.

The advanced nature of edge computing lies in its ability to handle large volumes of data locally, reducing the burden on central servers and improving the scalability and reliability of IT services.

“This enhances ITSM capabilities by enabling data processing closer to the source,” Nadkarni said. “This is critical for real-time analytics and helps reduce latency and improve response times, enabling faster decision-making and proactive problem resolution.”

This approach is particularly beneficial for applications that require real-time processing and analysis, such as monitoring and managing IT infrastructure.

By bringing computation and data storage closer to the devices that generate data, edge computing minimizes delays and ensures faster response times.

This is crucial for ITSM, as it allows for more efficient handling of incidents, quicker deployment of updates, and improved overall system performance.

ITSMs Face Challenges Integrating Advanced Networking Tech

Nadkarni noted one critical challenge ITSM professionals face is the combination of increased complexity and a shortage of skills.

“ITSM professionals can face challenges when integrating advanced networking technologies into existing infrastructure, including ensuring compatibility, addressing security concerns, managing complexity, and upskilling staff to manage new technologies effectively,” she explained.

From her perspective, a single management plane can assist IT staff in managing these challenges and avoiding “dreaded swivel chair ops”.

She said to effectively leverage SD-WAN, 5G and edge computing in their ITSM strategies, organizations should follow best practices such as conducting thorough assessments of their network requirements and selecting appropriate technology partners.

“Select service provider partners that can take the burden of an organization, implement robust security measures, provide adequate training, and continuously monitor and optimize network performance to effectively leverage these advanced networking technologies,” she said.

Aaron pointed out Virtual Network Assistance (VNA) is rapidly evolving from a novel feature to a linchpin in ITSM strategies.

The most advanced VNAs do more than detect network anomalies; they proactively recommend improvements and initiate ITSM processes—sometimes resolving issues without human input.

“It’s critical these tools are part of a unified system to avoid misaligned responses from disjointed teams,” he said.

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