Get network visibility, control, security to optimise performance
By Alison Job
A recent webinar hosted by UC-Wireless and Allot discussed the topic of network performance, with Ennio Pesenti, Sales Director for EMEA Enterprise at Allot and Giuseppe Garau, Presales at Allot, joining UC-Wireless CEO and MD Quentin Daffarn in the presentation. UC-Wireless is the distributor for Allot’s traffic intelligence and assurance platform for southern Africa.
Daffarn kicked off the discussion by asking what types of customer problems are being encountered by UC-Wireless partners.
Garau responded, citing increased demand for online services and hybrid working as a primary challenge. “There’s been a massive growth in internet traffic, with trillions of gigabytes of data flowing across the internet. Every single application demands internet bandwidth, every PC and phone is using bandwidth, all of which places increasing demand on bandwidth. In Africa, bandwidth is not as affordable or in such free supply as it is, for instance, in Europe. So we have to deal with lower bandwidth yet an increase in demand, placing a huge challenge on getting business done.”
Yet a high-quality digital experience is key for business productivity, for employees and customers alike, he says.
There’s also increased use of VPNs as companies buy more licences to assure secured remote working. This is more of a challenge, says Garau, because you must ensure that mission-critical applications are available despite the VPN’s traffic load. He cites the example of an online meeting, where words are skipped over and the overall call quality is poor. With the prevalence of working from home, this presents a huge challenge to the business.
Another IT challenge faced by the enterprise is the evolution of user behaviour, with growing demand for private devices to be on business networks, blurring the boundaries between work and private usage. The business must ensure that mission-critical applications are prioritised, especially real-time applications like voice.
Finally, there’s been a significant increase in cyber attacks worldwide and an increased digital interface makes for a greater attack surface. Businesses need to be able to safeguard the network and minimise downtime because of DDOS attacks.
Having visibility into your network is more vital than ever. However, while having access to granular detail is important, equally so is the ability to respond to, control and actually manage challenges. Garau says: “Firewalls help secure company data to some extent, but shouldn’t be the sole line of defence.”
He says three network capabilities are required to solve the above challenges: visibility, control and security.
It’s critical to have visibility into the network; if an application isn’t running, you need to know about it. Different business applications have different requirements, some are real-time, others aren’t time sensitive. It’s also important to differentiate between business applications and non-business applications. And you need to be able to control them.
“Our solution can identify almost any application that’s running on the network, even if it’s encrypted. This makes it easy for the IT manager to understand which application is using the network, while also categorising the application (eg, file transfer, mail, security, etc) so it’s easier to view.”
“You need to identify applications to understand how people are using the network, while also identifying applications that the IT manager may not want people using, such as risky or recreational applications that shouldn’t run on the network as they pose a security risk.”
This is enabled through a real-time monitoring and analytics tool. “You can see in real-time what’s happening on the network, identify how the network is being used, see peaks and anomalies, who is doing what and when an incident occurred. It’s possible to anticipate actions and react quickly.”
Reports can be accessed on application trends, bandwidth usage, network performance and other trends, providing a full view of what’s happening on the network.
Once full visibility into the network is achieved, you need control over it. “You need to be able to prioritise traffic, steering some traffic based on rules to a third-party server, for instance. You can control applications and set up application performances, differentiating between business-critical and non-critical applications.”
The business might want to set up minimum guarantee for business-critical applications, to ensure these specific applications will always have a reserved part of the network and will always work, ensuring business continuity for business-critical applications. It can also prioritise traffic, so that in case of saturation, there are rules dictating which application gets precedence, ie, real-time applications might get preference over non real-time applications. Network performance is improved using transmission control protocol (TCP) optimisation and acceleration.
Finally, the enterprise can provide this type of functionality to assorted end-users as a service. This is ideal for enterprises in government, education or finance that want to provide multiple tenants with the ability to control their individual networks.
“The solution learns the network,” explains Garau, “it inspects all the traffic, building a baseline of what of the network should look like. After a few days of learning, the system starts automatically analysing it and identifying anomalies and potential attacks. If there is an attempted attack, it can raise the alarm and auto mitigate it. All traffic is inspected so the solution can detect and mitigate in a matter of seconds. The IT manager can download a full analysis of an attack or anomaly after the fact, drilling down into it from the main dashboard.”
In conclusion, Allot’s traffic intelligence and assurance platform provides visibility into IT networks, aligning application performance, guaranteeing critical business application delivery and optimising the digital experience to end-users. The business gets a far more granular overview than it would get from its firewall technology.
UC-Wireless is the distributor for Africa for Allot, which is already being deployed in universities, education networks, enterprise applications and some business-critical applications such as mining and industrial.