Earlier this year global broadband penetration approached 40% - one step closer to universal access. However, at the same time South Africa’s broadband adoption rate was only 11.4%, a fraction of the global average. A lack of affordable access prevents many people from connecting, and high levels of latency keep those who can connect from a high quality user experience. Additionally, bandwidth costs in the country were found to be more than four times greater than the global average. To overcome this gap, the government introduced the South Africa Connect initiative, a national broadband policy aimed at connecting 90% of the population with affordable and reliable internet access by 2020.
The corporate IT perspective
According to Pieter Olivier, territory sales manager for Sub- Saharan Africa at Exinda, South African businesses do not have the luxury of waiting until 2020, and need to implement networks that can support the mission critical applications required to serve the needs of users and clients today.The company is often asked how it can help clients defer bandwidth upgrades, especially in countries like South Africa, where expensive upgrades are so commonplace.
It pointed out that historically, IT managers have deployed compression and caching technologies to combat the issue, however, Exinda’s customers have reported this approach is no longer sufficient. To make matters worse, network complexity is greater than ever and growing every year. Whether it’s a school network, a provider network or a corporate network, the increasing demands from more users, more devices and more activities are making even the most common IT problems harder to solve. This means that in the modern IT environment, traffic compression and caching are insufficient to ensure users stay productive and simultaneously control streaming video, manage mobile devices and assure cloud application performance. Traditional approaches are just not intelligent enough to handle the complexity.
The need for network orchestration
According to the company, the more crowded and complex a network becomes, the harder it is for an IT department to meet its key performance objectives. Top priorities like reducing network costs, troubleshooting problems, controlling recreational traffic and delivering predictable application user experiences get harder to solve as complexity grows. To solve these complex problems, Exinda stressed that companies need to think beyond point WAN solutions and focus on orchestrating all aspects of the network environment. By intelligently coordinating all users, applications, devices and activities across all network locations, IT departments can then prioritise the amount of bandwidth given to the applications, users and locations that matter most to maximise the limited network resources they have available.
Wayne Vercueil, account manager for Bytes System Integration underscores this sentiment, explaining that increasing bandwidth alone does not solve customers’ problems. “What’s more important is providing them visibility into what and who is consuming network bandwidth so they can make intelligent decisions on how to manage it. Orchestrating the network to align with business goals has become the top priority,” he stressed.
The path forward
The network challenges facing South African IT professionals are expected to continue to become more complex, particularly as the country moves closer towards universal access. Managing bandwidth costs alone will only get companies so far. Exinda believes that in order to solve the network problems of tomorrow, an orchestrated approach based on better visibility and insight will be the key to success for many organisations.