Why next-generation networks will drive the mobile and cloud era

Sponsored By: Cisco

We’re evolving from the Internet era to the mobile and cloud era — where applications are not only critical to running a business but are fuelling the global economy.

Apps create new business opportunities, new forms of employee collaboration and customer engagement, and even new ways to drive commerce. But many companies are still relying on legacy infrastructure to run those apps. Slow networks mean slow apps. And slow apps mean lost revenue.

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Every minute of network downtime equates to more than $28K of lost revenue; workers lose 14 per cent of their productivity because of poor network performance, according to a 2014 study by ZK Research.

“Now more than ever, the network is becoming a strategic business asset that will maximize the opportunity created by the digital era,” says Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. “Infrastructure readiness will directly impact an organization’s ability to succeed.”

And it will continue to grow in importance: By 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet and the average person will own six devices, according to research firm Gartner. Eighty-five per cent of enterprises expect to deploy employee-owned device or mixed-use device policies, which could triple the number of mobile devices in the workplace.

Most companies deployed their WAN architecture decades ago for client/server computing — long before the rise of the mobile workforce, cloud computing and agile apps. This legacy architecture can’t handle today’s significantly different network traffic patterns.

Legacy networks, for example, aren’t optimized for multimedia and real-time applications, such as streaming video and conferencing. They’re not agile, and enterprise WAN optimization doesn’t include the public cloud.

The “anytime, anywhere” nature of today’s mobile workforce is expanding the network perimeter; devices need to be secured on the local network and across cloud services. There’s also a need for a more robust network platform that can handle real-time, high-definition video-based collaboration and rich-media services.

One solution is to use an application services platform for WAN optimization, application visibility and cloud security. This offers the ability to deploy on-demand services, while delivering high-definition collaboration with a secure transition to cloud and virtualized network services.

An application centric infrastructure (ACI) is a highly automated, policy-driven architecture that provides a new level of flexibility.

NetApp, a tech company in Research Triangle Park, is rolling out ACI to get more out of its current infrastructure. “With ACI policy management and service permissions, we will have integrated visibility and intelligence into what is happening in the network,” says Al Lawlis, NetApp’s senior director of engineering services. “When we have application or tenant issues, we want to know the exact traffic information per tenant in the fabric.”

It’s early days, but taking this approach offers promise for companies looking to move past the Internet era into the mobile and cloud era — transforming their networks from a hindrance to a strategic advantage.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Sponsored By: Cisco