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June 07, 2017
How to solve the biggest problems of a dated network
By: Larry Socher

Don’t let a dated network leave your organization in the dust. Instead, use modular architectures to incrementally introduce new digital and cloud technologies while insulating existing platforms.

Virtualization and automation ahead

As discussed in my last blog, most organizations need to rethink their overarching network architecture to meet the changing technology requirements driven by digital and cloud. That means moving towards a more modular approach with simplified environments and a common set of equipment and software solutions.

As virtualization and automation extend beyond compute and storage into the network, companies are asking, “How can I get to the same kind of automation that I’m starting to see in compute and storage, and leverage software to allow for network function virtualization?”

Virtualization allows companies to move away from proprietary, tightly integrated network appliances and, instead, leverage standard compute and then virtualized network functions. That means you can have your content acceleration and your firewall running on the same device that executes your routing.

The trend toward untethering

In a typical network environment today, most users are untethered—they don’t plug in. So, to meet the latency and bandwidth requirements of their applications they need a very industrialized WiFi capability.

A network that moves at the pace of business

From a business executive’s point of view, the network sometimes seems to be a bottleneck that keeps the company from innovating and serving customers better. As a company and its customers move aggressively to digital and cloud, its network bandwidth and performance requirements are going up dramatically. Technologies like SDWAN enable companies to use multiple circuits underneath. That means they can route more business-critical traffic on the higher-performing circuits and less critical traffic on low-cost broadband circuits.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, bandwidth requirements are jumping 30 percent to 40 percent every year. It’s getting very expensive to perform upgrades.

The answer is to rethink your networking:

  • Make it more modular.

  • Virtualize and automate it.

  • Use new technologies like SDWAN.

With this approach, you can support the innovation curves that we’re seeing with cloud and digital. The network can move at the pace of the business.

Future-proofing

How can a company more effectively future-proof this environment? Network virtualization gives you a more nimble environment that adapts to changing technologies and business needs. That’s because you can always substitute the software without ripping out costly hardware devices and replacing them.

New technologies give companies a chance to reinvent themselves through their networks and network operations. As they move away from a proliferation of tightly-coupled hardware devices to more standardized, virtualized functions, companies can run their operations more effectively.

Traditionally, a network operations mindset was mostly reactive. Today, operations can be much more proactive and predictive by leveraging the latest in analytics and automation.

Shifts in networking approaches and technologies

To summarize, here are some of the major networking trends you should keep in mind:

  • A shift from tightly integrated network devices to network function virtualization and software-defined networking

  • Untethering from Ethernet to WiFi

  • New solutions like virtual CPE and SDWAN to more cost-effectively scale to meet increasing bandwidth requirements

  • A big push toward cloud interconnect

These new technologies and approaches can give your network the flexibility to adapt to ever-changing business requirements.

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