Thoughts from the WAN Summit: Michael Martin, McKinsey & Company

After coming together at New York in June, the WAN community found a lot to discuss. We caught up with Michael Martin, Networking and Security Architect at McKinsey & Company, to hear about the specifics of designing networks for the consulting industry and how technology and business need to come together.

The WAN Summit brings together network managers from every possible sector. What do you think is a specific or unusual aspect of building a network in your company's industry?

What we've always had to deal with is that for our consultants to have value, they have to be able to engage with our clients. This means we've always had a very highly mobile workforce. With that as a primary driver for us, we've always had the sort of work/office model where we have to balance our WAN users and our remote access users, and that's probably very specific to our industry space - dealing with that sort of high usage for both remote access users and office users.

What will you focus on in terms of your network in the next year and in the next three years?

What we've been looking at now is how do we embrace automation to manage our carrier relationships and bandwidth? And how do we use that to better integrate with our cloud partners in order to deliver software and technology functionality for our clients?

What were you looking to get out of the WAN Summit this year?

What I really like about this particular conference is the blend that it has of people who are on the finance side of the network and those who are on the technology and engineering side of it. It's one of those spaces that you can come to from either side. What's nice is that you can have conversations that are very inclusive and that account for both sides of this equation. That's one of the reasons why I particularly like this conference.

What are the main highlights from the themes you have heard about at the WAN Smmit?

The big thing I got from this conference is that SD-WAN and networking technology right now is much more on a journey phase than being a means to an end. There's also been a change in the last five years that security and networking are now completely interconnected - part of this has to do with COVID and part of this has to do with the cloud and the shift in how applications are hosted and consumed. These were traditionally separate spaces – if anything, you could have said that they were competing and combative at times. What I've seen now is that there's an embracing that these two spaces need to come together and work collectively.

Another big theme I've seen is about establishing a clear vision from the technology space and from the business space. If you don't have that kind of alignment that clearly connects the technology outcomes with the business outcomes, inevitably what you find is that there's a lot of waste and it's not a very smooth transformation journey.

The WAN Summit returns in September – this time in London. There will be sessions focusing on all possible aspects of running a corporate network, from protecting against malicious attacks to the true merits of SASE. Registration is now open and you can get your pass here.