Evolve your network or fail

As networks get more complex, the IT applications and systems that support the organisation need to do the opposite.

Today’s architectural shifts are fuelling innovations that meet the need for a simplified and intelligent network platform. As networks get more complex, the IT applications and systems that support the organisation and its operations need to do the opposite.

Business applications in particular need to become more instinctive and easy to use. This also means that businesses should think about usability when selecting their enterprise applications. Better adoption and utilisation of enterprise applications can help bring about a range of business benefits, including enhanced business process efficiency, greater productivity and better decision making.

While there are many ways to eradicate longstanding IT issues, the emergence of the cloud has offered decision-makers a unique opportunity, as it promises to enhance a number of processes. A recent IDC cloud research report shows that worldwide revenue from public IT cloud services exceeded $21.5 billion in 2010 and will reach $72.9 billion in 2015. This rapid growth rate is over four times the projected growth for the worldwide IT market as a whole (6.7 per cent).

Despite widespread adoption, there is no denying the hesitation that still exists amongst businesses and IDC research conducted for the sectors of manufacturing and healthcare, reflects hesitation as well as a keenness to know more and witness examples that demonstrate success of the tools and platforms. The ambiguity regarding the platform and its success can be summed up as:

Inconsistent access experience

It is still too difficult and tedious for users to access the networks, applications and services they need. These concerns are compounded by extensive variations of cloud service offerings for different user groups and industry verticals.

Box-centric configuration

Today’s network contains a multitude of boxes that need configuring whenever applications are deployed in the enterprise: switches, routers, other devices. This increases the likelihood of human error and downtime, and limits the responsiveness of enterprises.

Application and networking silos

Applications and networks have evolved separately for too long. They are developed and deployed independently and are not streamlined. They must work better together for enterprises to achieve cloud applications.

The bottleneck for businesses is no longer access to information, but the ability to connect people together with the right information at the right time - to drive faster collaboration, smarter decision making and achieve better business results.

Technologies available today can play a defining role in ensuring consistency, uptime and seamlessness of networks and devices. To be successful, businesses in 2013 will need to factor the following three priorities that can help ensure network and platform success:

  1. Universal role-based identity— A policy management solution that can establish ‘identity of one’, which allows enterprises, including those with stringent regulatory requirements, to control who enters the network and deliver differentiated access based on user roles. It also provides data privacy, restricted access to applications, and true network protection – all of which help prevent data loss and the spread of viruses. Enterprises can control who accesses a network, when, where, and how as well as which device will be allowed on the network. This is standards-based, vendor-agnostic, scalable, easy to use and cost effective solution which simplifies access for users without impacting security, and allows organisations to be flexible and easily manage network access.

 

  1. A fabric enterprise-wide— Implement an Ethernet fabric enterprise wide that enables faster service and lower latency while reducing errors. The Yankee Group research estimates that 37 per cent of network disruptions are caused by human error, which is due to mis-configuration in the data centre. The plug and play and automation capabilities of Ethernet fabric will simplify deployments for enterprises by reducing the potential for error during set up, delivering consistency across multiple locations and helping ensure that best practices are followed during installation. 

 

  1. Application driven networking— Most business processes suffer inefficiencies due to poor real-time collaboration. For instance, consider the delay between the onset of a critical business event and time spent notifying and bringing together appropriate personnel to respond. This lag time persists because business applications and real-time communications networks tend to be completely separate from one another. An application-driven networking solution provides a suite of packaged applications spanning desktop, mobile, and business process integration working with multi-vendor communication systems to provide a consistent user experience across multi-vendor environments. These applications work together synergistically to provide users with incremental value.

Together, these technology principles significantly improve networks, applications for users and enterprises and form the basis for application driven networking. They help deliver on the promise of cloud easy, with smarter applications and simple, secure network access across devices and locations. They simplify many of the day-to-day IT maintenance tasks of enterprises, enabling services to be rolled out in minutes without serious reconfiguration of the network. In short, application driven networks provide users with the cloud easy experiences they expect and allow enterprises to spend more resources on the strategic, forward-looking technology initiatives that give them a competitive advantage. 

Marc Randall is the senior vice president and general manager networking at Avaya.