To keep pace with evolving customer needs, companies are adopting cloud, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility to drive business efficiency and performance. However, as they move to these new IT models, many companies are challenged with the rigidity and complexity of their enterprise networks which are limiting the performance of applications and services.
Instead of giving them a competitive advantage, their networks are impeding innovation and business growth. These companies need to rethink their enterprise networks so they can address business demands such as supporting growth, delivering high service levels, reducing costs and mitigating risk.
Challenges to Building a Future-Oriented Network
To build a future-oriented enterprise network, companies need to address the following critical challenges.
Enterprises need to integrate and manage disparate technologies and resources into comprehensive and efficient heterogeneous networks, which provide high performance to meet expanding user data demands.
Networks were traditionally designed for speed rather than flexibility, but that will no longer suffice when flexible cloud-based services are becoming the norm. To gain greater agility and flexibility, companies need to transform from traditional static, equipment-centric network planning, deployment and management to a dynamic, on-demand approach that will enable them to rapidly expand or change services to meet business demands.
A future-oriented network puts the user experience at the heart of the network by building and implementing user- and application-aware network management policies to overcome congestion and performance issues.
With the increasing convergence of existing enterprise networks, mobile Internet and IoT networks, companies need to enhance intelligence at the network’s edge to optimise data traffic flow without compromising security or quality of service and driving up cost.
With the fast evolution of Advanced Persistent Treat (APT) attacks and changes in network and security architectures, network security management has become increasingly complex and yet vital to protecting the business, with no room for compromise.
Evolution of Enterprise Network Architecture
In addition to delivering high performance and minimising cost, next-generation enterprise networks need to be flexible, scalable, simple to manage and secure to support businesses in the future.
Flexibility key to next-generation networks
Enterprise networks will need to be able to dynamically respond to user demands for high performance applications and rich media content on any device. By leveraging programmable switching/computing chips, companies will be able to support changing switching protocols and facilitate complex data processing, without impacting network availability.
In addition, enterprises will move towards enhanced network virtualisation capabilities so that network resources can be deployed and managed on-demand without having physical access to switches or routers.
Network virtualisation can accelerate agility for enterprises while at the same time reduce the cost of managing network resources, ensure availability of business critical applications, and improve the user experience.
Scalability to meet new business demands
Future-ready enterprise networks need to be able to expand to enable rapid deployment of IT services and applications to support business needs. At the same time users want to connect to network resources from both wired and wireless devices.
To address these needs, the enterprise network must be able to scale efficiently to accommodate capacity needs within data centres, wide area networks, campus networks, mobile Internet, IoT and other networks.
Simplifying network management for greater efficiency
With workloads moving constantly, managing the entire enterprise network to ensure continuous availability of services and applications for the business, requires intelligent solutions that enable real-time decision-making, while simplifying network management.
Agile network controllers will play a key role in simplifying network management by unifying network resources for optimised resource allocation, enabling faster deployments and troubleshooting across networks, services and applications.
Creating advanced network security
Network security is top of the agenda for today’s enterprises. They need to build a system that is able to monitor and respond to network security threats in real-time to protect the network from increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks and intrusion.
To tackle the evolving threat landscape, more advanced and comprehensive network security approaches/technologies will be adopted such as sandbox based APT detection, unknown threats analysis leveraging big data analytics and DDoS-based attack mode sharing.
A NaaS Future
Future enterprise network architecture will be designed and built on a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) model which will deliver network services virtually, either through subscription or ‘pay as you use’ service model, to enable businesses to dynamically adapt to off-peak and peak demands.
NaaS can be achieved through agile network management, control and policies with technologies such as software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV), which are key virtualisation enabling network technologies for the future.
This flexible acquisition model will allow companies to add and allocate network resources on-demand to respond rapidly and securely to evolving needs. In addition to the significant cost advantages, NaaS will also enhance network scalability, elasticity, simplicity and security, shifting the enterprise network from a hindrance to an enabler of business growth and innovation.
Author: Mr. Chang Yue, Huawei