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Networking / January 5, 2020

Four Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation

This Gridiron-Inspired Advice Will Guarantee Your Digital Transformation Success and Keep Your Data Safe

This post was originally published on Dark Reading. It’s republished with permission.

Click on the image above to see the full infographic.

Unlike the 16-game NFL season, for the 8 in 10 companies in the US undergoing digital transformation (DX), there’s no off-season. The journey is an ongoing one that, for IT leaders, can feel like an endurance challenge, not to mention a massive expense, with DX spending predicted to reach nearly $2 trillion in 2022, according to IDC.

Application-centric visibility is key to accelerating DX. By better visualizing, isolating and understanding application interaction and usage patterns, organizations can accelerate secure deployment of their digital applications and prompt touchdown dances for DX victories both small and large along the way. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a SecOps team do the Ickey Shuffle?

But getting there requires adapting to the speed of the game, or transforming rapidly, which isn’t an easy feat when DX involves complexities like public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructure, and a new breed of multi-tier applications need to be managed and secured. Much like a wide receiver making plays in double coverage, networking pros have to be able to run fast networks during DX while navigating everything from changing IT environments to regulatory challenges like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and security demands in the context of escalating cybercrime.

Here are four gridiron-inspired tips that can help see your way to DX success with data, guaranteeing a SecOps Gronk spike:

1. Create a Championship Culture from Top to Bottom

Organizations can take a cue from great sports franchises that develop and maintain a winning culture. Digital transformation is a business imperative and, much like winning, is built on strong technology underpinnings, ultimately focused on driving the culture of the organization. It starts at the board and C-level team with a vision of what you want the company to be in five years and then determining whether or not you have the culture, people and resources to get there. You have to deliberately become a data-driven culture in every aspect from top to bottom, and treat cybersecurity as a strategic business enabler rather than an obstacle, in order to win at DX.

2. See Everything, All the Time

Whether we’re talking turf or network, clear visibility of the traffic is just as important as any other technical skills. Like a pass rusher on the quarterback’s blind side, malware moves and data exfiltration happens across the network in stealth mode — not to mention the complexity of applications operating on-premises, in the cloud or both. Having a clear line of sight into the organization’s network and application layers lets you visualize your infrastructure, what’s running on it and how applications are performing and interacting with each other — and from there, extract kernels of insight to guide your DX efforts

3. Handle Complex Schemes at Top Speeds

Getting 53 professional athletes to master an NFL playbook comes with its challenges, not unlike wrangling the new breed of digital applications. Both require turning complexity into cohesion — and doing so fast. I’m referring to applications with multiple tiers (where each tier is scaled out and there’s a set of microservices), some of which are built in-house, others are built externally and some come from open source. When the components are sandwiched together, complexity escalates rapidly, which ultimately manifests itself as challenges around securing the applications, as well as ensuring consistent performance and experience. The key to keeping things under control is having the right kind of data to help you understand the interaction, performance and security characteristics of these applications.

4. Be a Good Halftime Coach

Good coaches make quick adjustments to position the team for second-half success. NetOps and SecOps teams can relate when it comes to troubleshooting, managing and securing applications. Whatever the application architecture, once in deployment, something at some point is bound to go awry. You need to figure out what’s happening and quickly course correct, but when you’re scaling microservices, it’s hard to troubleshoot just through application instrumentation. By analyzing the network traffic pertaining to these applications, you get immediate actionable data points that can be used to address trouble spots and understand security implications as well. The ability to isolate specific applications or microservices communication streams for deeper inspection would allow the security operations to easily understand access patterns and put in place effective micro-segmentation strategies.

The NFL game is faster than ever, and the same can be said for the pace of digital business and the proliferation of cyber threats. The ability to handle day-to-day challenges while positioning the organization for future success is only possible with the appropriate infrastructure in place. NetOps and SecOps teams are tasked with the development, implementation, maintenance and security of very complex enterprise infrastructures that prepare their organization for tomorrow, much like NFL teams must draft and develop players for future success. Both must do so while reducing risks, costs and security threats along the way. With the above-mentioned tips as the foundation of your journey, you can position your organization for success for seasons to come.

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