Overcoming The Enterprise Networking Challenge Through Smart Investments

By Sean Ong, Country Manager Malaysia, Brocade Communication Systems

Many enterprises are facing a huge challenge in managing their networks due to the sheer volume of new data being thrown around. How do we handle, store, and transport massive amounts of data, migrate to IPv6, and deal with user growth, all at the same time? It gets even more challenging when you consider that most networks have outdated equipment and are not well-equipped to meet these challenges.

Sean Ong

The good news is that enterprises don’t need to re-invent the wheel, or in this case, the network. All it takes is a course correction. However, as IT managers are being pressured into doing more with less, the pressure is on to maximize investments and reduce costs. This should be viewed as an opportunity to modernize the network infrastructure while making smart, forward-looking investments. Here are four opportunity areas that networking managers should be focusing on:

Migration to IPv6
With the depletion of IPv4 addresses, enterprises should take the lead in migrating to IPv6 technology. Most enterprises often overlook the fact that IPv6 comes with added benefits that revolve around better security, interoperability and manageability, making the network infrastructure more agile. This is an opportunity to make the network IPv6 – ready in stages, by working with vendors to upgrade or replace technology in a planned approach where IPv4 and IPv6 environments are supported seamlessly without putting network operations at risk. Who knows, enterprises can also take this as an opportunity to sell unused, allocated blocks of IPv4 addresses, while there is still demand, although the revenue stream is marginal with IPv4 addresses priced at about US$10 per address.

Tackling Software Defined Networking early
The rise of software defined networking (SDN) will completely change and transform the network into a platform for innovation and will be a key component of the virtualization process. According to the analyst firm Gartner, the primary driver for the rise in SDN adoption among enterprises is to manage operational costs. Another analyst firm, IDC, believes the global SDN market will be worth US$2 billion a year in 2016, up from just US$168 million today.

However, SDN involves a major shift in thinking for network managers. Many enterprises are struggling with what SDN really is all about, and are waiting to see what happens as deployments begin. I recommend that enterprises commit to studying the technology and looking at how it can impact their networks sooner rather than later. When used with Ethernet Fabrics, SDN has the potential to unlock intelligence in the network to provide new services and powerful analytics that are key to delivering applications and services quickly and accurately as demanded by today’s consumers.

Enterprise WAN – get ready for a revolution
Enterprise WAN has not gone through an innovation cycle in over 15 years. Although enterprises have reduced WAN costs and improved management, much more can be done. With the rise of cloud computing, the Enterprise WAN is shaping up for a revolution with WAN Virtualization driving consolidation and improving network performance and reliability, dramatically. WAN should be considered as a strategic piece of the cloud-computing jigsaw and network managers should prepare and enable their networks for a move towards it if they have not already done so.

Manage mobile data costs with Enterprise WLAN deployments
With the proliferation of mobile devices and the increasing trend of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), thousands of new devices are being added into the network. The pressure is on network managers to manage mobile data costs while keeping the enterprise secure and running. According to Gartner, by 2015 80% of WLAN installations will be unable to handle their loads and will require major design modifications, a figure which sits below 20% of current installations.

Enterprises must deal with this surge in traffic and spiraling costs with a converged access network, offsetting wired network capacity with improved Wi-Fi capabilities. It is essential to consider future network demands, which will come in the form of mobile devices.

Enterprises need to focus on making investments in these four areas while always asking the question – what are the mission critical components for your business?

We are trapped in a cycle of innovation and enterprises need to work hand in hand with vendors who understand the network and changing technology and are able to transform the network to be able to handle the demands of the business, both present and future. It may not be reinventing the wheel, but we will be making the wheel resilient to handle any terrain and weather that it may come across.

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