Frankenstein Networks: How to Avoid the Nightmare and Choose Wisely
The legend of Frankenstein is a spooky tale of an unorthodox scientific experiment in which a monster is stitched together using ambiguous processes of chemistry and alchemy. You might remember Mary Shelley’s 1818 horror story of the hideously ugly (yet emotional) lab-created, green creature that spawns acts of murder, revenge, and suicide. You may have even seen sightings of Frankenstein this October--after all, his ghost is known to roam at this time of year.
But, you might not know that Frankenstein also haunts networks--particularly those of the largest telco providers and the biggest brands in network services. Their solutions, after all, are sewn together like Frankenstein’s monster.
The Creation of Frankenstein Networks
Most legacy telco network providers are amalgamated companies created by a series of business acquisitions; a regional telephone company bought a couple of rural carriers and combined them into a “single” network. Each acquired company came with its own equipment and separate network technologies that were sent to the lab for consolidation. Forced to leverage the investments of their acquisitions, telcos patchworked together “Frankenstein networks.”
But these networks can become your worst nightmare.
Frankenstein networks fail to deliver a ubiquitous global network fabric for customers. Legacy providers must maintain large teams of technical staff to design, implement, and manage their solution. To the customer CIO, Frankenstein networks appear as a unified service. But on the inside, they are still a product of mad-scientist engineering, which makes them difficult to monitor and manage. One telltale sign of the hodgepodge is a collection of customer portals needed to explain the performance of each piece of the beast. It’s not uncommon for global customers to have multiple different portals, making it a real monster to marry all the network performance metrics and glean any valuable insights!
Yes, Frankenstein networks are still alive in today’s era of software defined networking. Their quilt of disparate systems--each originally designed to serve different states and regions across the U.S. and the globe--are the networks behind many global enterprise customers.
How CIOs Can Be Haunted
Much like the old horror story, the more you read, the more you understand the real consequences of creating a monster. The patchworked underlings of Frankenstein networks are invariably linked to the flexibility and agility of the network solution itself. Because the separate systems were never originally designed to interact or interoperate, IT capabilities and services may particularly be lacking as it relates to:
- Dynamic bandwidth and real-time application control
- End-to-end quality of service
- Virtual network function capabilities
- Network segmentation agility and ease of management
- A “single pane of glass” for network visibility: performance management and optimization dashboards
- The ability to make rapid changes to network services: add/remove locations, change connectivity types, etc.
These features are crucial for enterprise CIOs seeking to reduce IT complexities and leverage their network to enable digital transformation. By comparison, a single, global network platform uses modern, software defined networking principles to champion the list above and make the IT infrastructure modular and programmable by nature.
How to Break the Curse
If you’re considering a network refresh and want to avoid Frankenstein, ask your potential provider these questions:
- Can you provide insight into the architecture that you will be provisioning for our network?
- Do you have the ability to deliver seamless services with the same SLAs on a global scale?
- Will I be able to segment my network and create unlimited virtual instances by user group, business unit, or workflow?
- Will I have ONE customer portal with centralized policy management that aggregates all WAN performance data and makes it available for analysis and reporting?
- Will I be able to check and monitor, uptimes, latency/jitter values, tickets, issues, and usage in real time for all my global locations (including actual and historic data per location)? If so, how?
- What is your process and turntime to add/remove virtual network environments or change the network connectivity type?
At the end of original Frankenstein tale, the creature vows to kill himself so that no one will ever know of his existence. He drifts away on an ice raft that is soon "lost in darkness and distance" and never to be seen again.
Unfortunately, CIOs don’t yet have the comfort of that last chapter in the novel. For now, Frankenstein networks still live among us. Choose wisely and count on Masergy to help you avoid the nightmare.