Posts Tagged ‘hybrid WAN’

Merriam-Webster defines the word “conundrum” as an “intricate and difficult problem”. This word can most certainly be used in a business context to describe the challenges associated with providing Internet access to branch and remote office workers. Legacy networks provided Internet access to users through a hub-and-spoke architecture — Internet connectivity came into the hub and then was distributed out to the branches via the spokes. This was never an ideal method of delivering Internet services since the traffic effectively traversed the WAN twice (to the branch and back); most companies lived with it, though, as Internet access wasn’t considered mission critical in the mid-90s.

In the popular comic strip Peanuts, Linus was always seen carrying his blanket.  Clearly, the blanket gave the young lad a sense of comfort and security even in the face of his sister Lucy calling it a “stupid blanket” and constantly urging him to ditch it.  To Linus, knowing the blanket was there was far more important than any kind of common sense that might make him consider giving it up.

The networking industry is in the midst of a transition to the digital era. The network plays a critical role in the success of digital businesses as many of the digital building blocks, such as IoT and the cloud, are network-centric. This is one of the reasons why there is currently so much focus on network evolution. Technologies such as SDN, SD-WAN, WiFi, segmentation are currently red hot.

However, before moving forward, it’s critically important to go through the exercise of establishing a network baseline. In actuality, setting a network baseline will provide value regardless of whether the network is being evolved or not. Understanding the current state of the network can have many benefits, including planning for growth.

About a month ago I attended an analyst session with Michael Dell at VMWorld. During the event, Mr. Dell stated that he learned many years ago that when things are good for businesses, customers are going to do it, with or without the vendors’ help. He cited Dell’s initial resistance to virtualization as an example. Dell tried to stave off customers deploying server virtualization as it was bad for Dell but customers did it anyway, seriously hurting Dell’s position as a key technology supplier. Chuck Robbins made a similar statement shortly after he took the reigns at Cisco regarding software defined networking. He said something to the effect that Cisco’s job is to help customers through transitions, not get in the way, and that it would never again be dismissive of a technology that was beneficial to its customers.

Navigating By The Dashboard Lights

Every network operations center I have been in always has a big dashboard in the middle with a bunch of red and green lights. Sometimes it’s a simple display showing the layout of the network and other times its something more extravagant like a big spinning globe with a bunch of nodes flashing on it. Regardless of how fancy the display is, the information on it has two common points – the platform is built on the concept of using red and green “lights” to manage whether devices are up or down, also known as fault management and the information is mostly useless to network managers.

How’s Your Productivity?

Businesses spend billions of dollars annually on initiatives to make workers more productive. In fact, ZK Research found that in 2015, organizations spent in aggregate over $12 billion on technology to increase the agility of their organization. The new initiatives are great but what about existing applications? Another interesting data point from ZK Research is that workers claim to be 14% less productive because of poor or unavailable application performance. It’s certainly important to fund digital initiatives but it’s critical to understand that by making the applications that workers are already using run optimally, this itself could net out a double-digit productivity improvement. My advice to CIOs is to ensure that existing applications are being delivered optimally before embarking on new initiatives.

The enterprise WAN has always been challenging to manage. It can be complicated, slow to reconfigure, lack security and many applications perform poorly over it. High service costs, capEx and opEx while performance and manageability remained an issue – a regular lose-lose. But then along came the software defined WAN – the solution to all problems. Or is it?



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