Procurement: Unsung Heroes of Digital Transformation

How finance and procurement teams can enable network modernization and cost reduction in an inflationary, cost conscience budget season

In our last post, Convergence is the Answer, we discussed the looming threat to the global economy and the impact it could have on IT teams heading into budget season.  Here, we share some tactical recommendations on how network and security teams can harness the efforts of teams like procurement to achieve shared objectives to ‘tighten belts’ but still modernize the enterprise.   

You don’t need to be a SASE purist to understand the widespread push for network modernization or the convergence of network and security. The concept is sound. The end state is ideal.  But motivation and intent aren’t always aligned with contractual, financial, and operational realities.

Fact is, many organizations are saddled with legacy MPLS and bound by long-term contracts that get in the way of modernization.  And they make it difficult to increase operational agility, reduce costs, and protect workloads and users that have become increasingly distributed.

The reality is enterprises have existing investments in hardware that is not fully amortized and in software contracts with time remaining,” Gartner states in its 2021 Strategic Roadmap for SASE Convergence. “Hardware refresh cycles at branch offices average five to seven years. Relationships and staff expertise with incumbent vendor offerings is another factor. Complicating SASE adoption is that most larger enterprises have separate network security and network operations teams.”

The reality of how the network was built and the financial obligations tied to its operation can hold the organization back from true transformation.  Fortunately, there is a team focused on these contractual obligations that can help.

While they can’t force operational alignment, procurement teams are often the underutilized enablers of network modernization and cost reduction. And it’s because they have a unique ability to influence and optimize hardware refresh cycles, vendor relationships, and service contracts.

According to Gartner[1], organizations wanting to accelerate digital transformation and reduce costs should:

  • Inventory equipment and contracts to implement a multiyear phase out of on-premises perimeter and branch hardware in favor of cloud-based delivery of SASE capabilities.
  • Consolidate vendors and cut complexity and costs as contracts renew for secure web gateways (SWGs), cloud access security brokers (CASBs) and VPN. Leverage a converged market that emerges combining these security edge services.
  • Actively engage with initiatives for branch office transformation and MPLS offload in order to integrate cloud-based security edge services into the scope of project planning.
  • Phase out the use of MPLS and adopt internet-only access for the majority of branches. As part of this, evaluate emerging hyperscale offerings for WAN connectivity for branches as they become an alternative for WAN services.

Procurement teams can help achieve all of these recommendations. They can help track hardware end-of-life and refresh cycles.  They assist in a strategy for vendor consolidation and cloud migration. They can reassess MPLS needs and commitments, identifying opportunities to eliminate circuits or get out from existing contracts. And they can help identify services and vendors that provide increased levels of agility and cost efficiency – without sacrificing performance, reliability, or security.

“Midsize enterprises should evaluate consolidated SD-WAN and cloud-based security edge services from a single provider,” Gartner recommends.[2]

We couldn’t agree more. And enlist the help from the procurement team along the way … it’s a collaboration that can payoff in spades for years to come.

But it requires a careful evaluation of existing systems and contracts. It demands greater collaboration between CIO and procurement teams. And it calls for vendors that provide fully managed, all-in-one SD-WAN services worldwide.

To learn how Aryaka – the only vendor recognized for WAN Edge Infrastructure in North America, EMEA, and APAC in the 2022 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’ report – can help you modernize your network and reduce costs, schedule a demo today.

[1] Gartner, “2021 Strategic Roadmap for SASE Convergence,” March 2021

[2] Gartner, “2021 Strategic Roadmap for SASE Convergence,” March 2021

About the author

Sean Kaine
Sean researches and writes about networking and cybersecurity services and trends for Aryaka. With more than 15 years’ experience leading product and marketing teams for b2b enterprises, Sean brings a diverse background across networking and security services. Prior to joining Aryaka, Sean led teams at Motorola Solutions, Neustar, Network Solutions, and Verisign. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife, two sons, and overly anxious pug, Gus.