Digital Enterprise of the Future

Damian Repolle’

Chief IT Architect & Executive Director Transformation at AT&T

Learning Objectives

Damian Repolle', AT&T Chief IT Architect & Executive Director Transformation, will discuss the top IT strategic pillars to allow companies to achieve their business and digital transformation goals. Damian will discuss the transition underway from physical to software defined IT. What are the top IT strategic transformation pillars to focus on, what does the Digital Enterprise of the Future look like, and what capabilities must it have to allow Enterprises to succeed over the next few years.

Key Takeaways:

  • What are the top IT strategic transformation pillars to focus on?

  • What does the Digital Enterprise of the Future look like?

  • What capabilities must it have to allow Enterprises to succeed over the next few years?

"We need to think creatively and we need to help enterprises be able to get the data that needs to get to the user and get there securely."

Damian Repolle’

Chief IT Architect & Executive Director Transformation at AT&T


Hi, I’m Damian Repolle’, with AT&T. I’m the Chief IT Architect and Executive Director of Transformation. Our presentation today is going to be on the digital enterprise of the future. A little bit of background on myself—my undergrad is an Engineering. I also have a Master’s in Business Administration. Been in IT for over 30 years. First 10 years or so, then focused on wireless. In the last 20, in wireless as well as wireline. A lot of the focus has been on transformation. A variety of different areas within transformation from a focus perspective, working very closely with Fortune 500 to 5000 organizations. Basically, my role is to sit down with a CIO, a CTO, CMO, VP, or Director, and work with them to help them achieve their business goals and objectives, preferably through leveraging information technology. If at all possible, with AT&T.

We focus on revenue and profit growth, and business, as well as digital transformation because at the end of the day, it’s all about you, the customer. Cloud transformation is very important and we’ll talk about that through the presentation. We’ve also focused a lot on LAN and WAN—Local Area Network, Wide Area Network, voice and unified communications, collaboration. Lots of transformation going on there. Leveraging the cloud, and of course, mobility. What would we do without the invention of the mobile phone or a tablet allows us to work from basically anywhere? Of course, 5G—huge growth in 5G. Really going to change the world, we’ll talk about that. IoT Internet of Things, placing sensors on all sorts of devices, dramatically improves productivity, and decreasing costs and driving increased efficiencies for all sorts of different companies, especially in the Manufacturing space. Of course, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Business Insights, and all of us have been hearing about Cybersecurity these days.

I look forward to communicating with you. Feel free to reach out to me at If you’d like to connect up by LinkedIn, you can see my information there. Let’s go ahead and jump in.

We’re thinking about the digital enterprise of the future. It really starts with creating an excellent business and digital transformation strategy. Over here on the right, what I’ve done is I’ve put together 11 Information Technology pillars that I feel are foundational to creating an excellent business and digital transformation strategy. Number one, really starts with application rationalization. What does that mean? Well, we need to understand what applications are on our network that are running across the wired and wireless lines inside our enterprises. You might be surprised that there’s a large number of applications that probably are not very productive that your employees are using. Step one is understanding how many applications and which ones are those applications are mission critical, which ones do we absolutely need to make sure that are up and running all the time. Also, what applications are providing intellectual property, those need to be provided for and secured properly as well. Many companies have utilized private data centers. We all know that there’s been a dramatic shift in moving applications from private data centers, to public data centers, and leveraging public CSPs or cloud service providers. Those applications can be provided cloud and they can be provided more cost effectively, as well as with increased scalability. As applications move from private data centers out to the cloud, there’s a cloud transformation. There needs to be appropriate, secure connectivity from wherever your workers might be located.

In the past, most of our employees are based in an office. That office might have been a small office or branch office or maybe a headquarters location. With the advent of mobility, and especially over the last year and a half to two, with COVID, and with other very serious health situations going on around the world and global pandemic, we’ve had to pivot, we’ve had to adjust. Most companies have embraced cloud transformation quite significantly. They’ve given people the opportunity to work from home, or to work from anywhere, so some pretty significant shifts there. As the applications that used to be housed in a private data center move to the cloud, you need to make sure that that the applications that people are accessing are going to have the right connectivity all the way from that mobile device through the network, to the CSP or to the public data center where that information that application is being stored.

When we talk about network transformation, one of the big shifts that’s going on is that corporations in the past leveraged private line, or they leveraged a private VPN, such as MPLS. Now, what’s going on is that companies are shifting from leveraging that to leveraging the public Internet as a transport mechanism and leveraging broadband access. That’s fine, and that drives down costs, but we also have to pay attention to continued end to end security. When we talk about network transformation, we are discussing some large change waves that are going on, where companies are transitioning from utilizing a network transport of a private VPN, such as MPLS to a public VPN, such as the internet or broadband access. One of the technologies that has enabled this and allow this to move forward has been software defined networking, as well as VNFs—Virtual Network Functions. SDN takes advantage of Software Defined Networking. If the piece of hardware or the universal CPE is leveraging a VNF, or Virtual Network Function, then we begin to take advantage of SD-WAN, Software Defined Wide Area Networking. What we’re seeing is that there’s a convergence going on with security and security is coming together with SD-WAN.

Gartner has coined a new term called SASE, or Secure Access Service Edge. We’re seeing hybrid strategy and hybrid transformations occurring inside our large global enterprises. Perhaps your company has taken advantage of the shift from TDM Voice to Voiceover IP. Voiceover IP promises significant cost savings as well as high quality audio, but you need to make sure that you have the right infrastructure in place and the right architecture you need to take advantage of a variety of different technologies such as SIP Trunking, as well as SBCs, Session Border Controllers, think of those as a voice firewall.

We also need to talk about unified communications transformation. The whole idea that you’re able to have one platform to provide your voice and video collaboration no matter where you are in the world. Anytime, anywhere, from any device. When we think about mobility, of course, we think about, in 2007, the development and the launch of the iPhone and the massive amount of data, voice, and video content that has grown in this trip and traverse is the internet today.

That wouldn’t have occurred or wouldn’t have grown if it wasn’t for 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G, and now we move forward into 5G. Many firms that provide wireless communications have deployed 5G across the United States and continues to be deployed across the United States as well as into around the world. When we talk about IoT, we’re talking about the Internet of Things. I have here smart XYZ strategy. If you are a large bakery, that could be smart bakery. You manufacture products that could be smart manufacturing. If you are a professional services company, it’s about a smart strategy to help your business be successful.

If we think about Manufacturing, for example, the IoT or the Internet of Things, all about providing sensors on to the equipment on the production line from the beginning to the end. Taking the data from those sensors, maybe it’s a pressure, maybe it’s temperature, maybe it’s migration, maybe it’s the quantity of products. Whether that product has the right quality, based on certain specifications, taking all that data and funneling that data back to, where? Probably to the cloud, either to your private data center or to a public CSP. Then when that data gets there, you want to analyze that data, so that you can drive business insights. What might those business insights be? They might be that you can increase your production line speed. Maybe you’re seeing that there are certain vibrations that occur at a particular point in time and a particular piece of equipment. You can proactively ahead of time, provide preventative maintenance. At the end of the day, taking all this data from the IoT devices, and leveraging AI, ML, and BI. It’s about helping the company to increase profitability, decrease costs, increase efficiencies.

We talk about smart Supply Chain strategy. That really goes hand in hand with what we’re talking about with IoT. It also funnels into blockchain, and thinking through the best way to keep track of inventory and do that on a global basis. We talked about AI, ML, BI, in combination with IoT, just a few moments ago. We have to make sure that we have a pervasive cybersecurity plan. A lot of hackers and nation states and individuals that want to get ahold of your intellectual property. Individuals that want to launch phishing, or denial of service, or a ransomware attack, and take your company hostage. Cyber security needs to be top of mind and you need to have it as part of each one of these 11 IT foundational areas to focus on. From a business and digital transformation perspective, these are many of the topics and areas that you need to focus on.

2021—what are some of the IT change with driving digital transformation, and creating the digital enterprise of the future? We talked about SDN, Software Defined Network, and VNF, Virtual Network Functions. That’s the whole idea of moving from hardware architecture to software, and basically virtualizing functionality that used to only be hardware. We talked about private to public cloud transformation. Massive shifts there and driving significant cost savings in driving increased Information Technology capabilities. We mentioned the convergence of networking and security. Gartner has coined the term SASE, Secure Access Service Edge, and we’ll talk more about that.

We talked about the global pandemic going on over the last two years, and that has created a remote worker renaissance. You think about it, last January, not quite two years, year and a half ago, 80% of the enterprise workers work inside a corporate location and only 20% work from home—complete flip flop. Now, we have a situation where 80% of the workers are working remote and 20% are working in the office. That will shift back as things change with the pandemic, but it’s never going to get back to the way it was. We need to think about how we provide the right networking architectures to help these remote workers that are going to work from anywhere be continued to be successful. We’ll talk more about that.

Wired to wireless. Well, I’ve been in the industry for quite some time, as I mentioned. The silver in the hair isn’t just from Information Technology, it’s also from my four sons. I’ve seen the change of 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, and now we’re quite far along on 5G. What’s amazing is that we are really now at a point where 5G connectivity is going to compete with wired connectivity from the amount of bandwidth that it can provide. With LTE, you’re looking at, let’s say, 40 megabits per second. With 5G, you’re looking at 400 megabits per second—10 times significant shift. As prices continue to drive down, there’s going to be a big shift in architecture and business models. We’ll talk about that. Then, artificial intelligence—companies have data. Usually, it’s not a question of how much data they have, it’s a question of mining that data to drive business insights, and to help your business be as efficient and as successful and as profitable as possible.

Let’s begin to dive into that digital enterprise. The prior slides were to lay the foundation in the background about what’s going on, and what you need to think about, as an information technology leader, to position your company. We’re going to now dive into cloud transformation network and security convergence in more detail. On the top section of this slide, we talked about cloud transformation—private data centers. Many of those applications have moved from private data centers into a private cloud or a public cloud. Think of a private cloud as a place where you can have your information your applications located, and have that solely for your enterprise, but you’re leveraging infrastructure as a service. You have scalability, flexibility, typically very competitively priced. If you don’t need that to be solely dedicated to your enterprise, you might feel comfortable with that public cloud security, and you can leverage their scalability and typically get that even better price.

Then when we have Software as a Service, think of examples such as Microsoft Office 365, communication platform that’s in the cloud, that you can get access to any place, anytime, anywhere, wherever you might be. Just as an example. When we look at network and security transformation, we talked about private connectivity, as well as public connectivity. In the past, most enterprises leverage either private line or MPLS, and that was a private VPN, Virtual Private Network. As companies shift, and they move to the Internet, or a public VPN, they need to make sure they have secure CSP connectivity.

Then we talk about mobility, LTE and 5G, and the shifts going on there. No matter which transport you’re using, you need to make sure you have end to end security. SD-WAN to SASE. That’s a convergence going on where we’re looking and seeing security needing to be from end to end. Then you see a variety of different employee locations or locations where employees will be working from in the past, it was a small office branch office headquarter data center. In the new world that we’re in, definitely, it’s the remote worker. There’s no here over here on the right. In the COVID era, the remote worker became and will continue to be a very important site type.

I thought it’d be worthwhile for us to dig into that concept created by Gartner, which is SASE, Secure Access Service Edge. There’s five foundational technologies associated with that architecture. SD-WAN, we talked about that earlier, agnostic edge connectivity, WAN virtualization, traffic prioritization, and management. I saw a stat recently that said that SD-WAN is going to continue to grow. About 20% of corporations have embraced it, and it’s going to go to over 65 to 70% by 2025, which isn’t very far away. I’m not surprised to see that because it provides a wide variety of additional benefits, not just cost reduction. Application prioritization is big, because companies look at providing the best secure access for those users, no matter where they are, around the world. With the advent of cloud, and the growth of software defined networking, and virtualization, what we’re seeing is that architectures are significantly changing.

In the past, you would have an architecture where the DMZ or the Demilitarized Zone, associated with your security architecture, was typically in your private data center. You have all of your remote users and all of your corporate traffic before it went out to the internet, funneled back to that one location, not so in the future. When we have individuals that are using smartphones, using tablets, they’re using a laptop, and they could be located in a hotel, they could be located in a coffee shop, they could be located anywhere in the world. The applications are now not in a private data center, the applications are now in a public CSP.

We need to think creatively and we need to help enterprises be able to get the data that needs to get to the user and get there securely. That’s where a secure web gateway comes into play. We can funnel all the users no matter where they are throughout the world through a secure web gateway. We can put together appropriate security policies, and access control lists from a global perspective in the cloud, and scalable for our corporate employees. That provides increased security, which is good. Our secure web gateway platform, if you want to think of what an example of that might be, think of Z scaler or Palo Alto, and there’s many others, Akamai, provides URL content filter, SSL inspection, DNS merge, remote access.

What’s this concept of zero trust, you might ask yourself? Well, think about it this way. As users, as employees that are using smartphones, they’re using tablets. As they’re gaining access to applications that are no longer on your corporate network, you need to make sure that that individual has access to the correct applications, and not the applications that he or she should not be allowed to access. For example, if I’m an engineer, and I’m working in the engineering department, perhaps I shouldn’t have access to information within the sales department or on servers associated with sales. Similarly, you can limit which employees have access to what applications associated with their role. Inside the company. A human resources manager might have access to all of the human resources, information about all the individuals that work under him or her. However, if I’m an employee, I shouldn’t have access to any information associated with any other employee. With zero trust, we can make sure that we leverage microsegmentation, and that that individual only has access to the information based on their identity or their role.

The other powerful thing is zero trust allows us to focus on that application and have that awareness. When we think about firewall as a service, we’re thinking about providing stateful firewall, IDs is Intrusion Detection Service, IPS is Intrusion Prevention Servers, and anti-malware. In the world that we’re in today, we want to focus on anti phishing and anti ransomware. Cybersecurity is changing so quickly. We need to make sure that we’re staying current, and that all of our policies and all of our devices that are providing the security to our network, both from a branch perspective, as well as from a virtual perspective for all of our users, our current and our updated rapidly. From a cloud perspective, that’s something that we’re able to do.

Then we have cloud access security broker, security as a service, software as a service, visibility, proxy, and then data security. Let’s take that concept and let’s build that out to a little bit more detail. Digital enterprise of the future, we’re talking about cloud, network, security, as well as virtualization. Over here on the left, we have a home worker, a mobile worker, a branch worker, all sorts of different categories that we can potentially place our enterprise employees no matter where they are around the world. Global connectivity, there’s a wide variety of different access methodologies that our employees can take advantage of, whether that’s MPLS, Ethernet, Internet, LTE, 5G, broadband, WiFi, all depends on where they are, and at what point in time.

Over here, on the right hand side of the picture, we have software as a service. Then over here, we also have public CSPs. Our employees, who are over here, are traveling across some connectivity, and they want to get to the applications to do whatever it is that they’re trying to accomplish for your firm. What we see occurring, is that the ability for us to be able to take advantage of SD-WAN, Secure Access Service Edge, all the way from the worker across the network to a cloud edge location. To complete that communication, and then go to security as a service in the cloud, to a variety of different capabilities here that you see, such as cloud access, security broker, firewall as a service, zero trust, network access, secure web gateway, etc. We want to be able to provide the appropriate interconnections to the software as a service and the public CSPs. One of the ways that we’re able to do that is by leveraging carrier hotels with secure cloud connectivity. An example of that could be cloud exchange.

One of the things that’s going on that we see quite common is that an employee is gaining access to these applications. We need to make sure that the response time, no matter where they are in the world, is going to meet their expectations. One of the things that we can do to help them is move some of these applications from the far end over here, closer to where they’re located. We can do that through a concept called Network Edge Compute, or NEC, as well as another concept called NEC Multi Axis Edge Compute, and move it even closer to the premise where those employees are working. That often is very important to a Manufacturing facility, so that the applications can get closer to, let’s say, the real time manufacturing and the robotic process engineering that might be going on. At a big picture perspective, we want to maximize the end users experience by end to end application visibility and we want to minimize threats by a secure end to end cybersecurity protection. We want to be able to do that by providing a single pane of glass visibility and management—your orchestration.

I hope that helps you see the bigger picture of the future of the digital enterprise. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hopefully connecting up with you. Once again, I’m Damian Repolle’. I can be reached out, and I shared earlier, my LinkedIn information. I’d be happy to connect up with you on LinkedIn. Thank you very much.

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