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Top five business trends driving network transformation

Traditional networks were designed for client-server access to centralised information by a set of stationary, IT-controlled endpoints, but today’s business doesn’t operate that way.
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The digital transformation has made the network indispensable. As your network goes, so your business goes. Everything is connected: static and mobile devices all communicate via the network.

Extraordinary statistics suggest 51% of CEOs do not know what their industry might look like in 2023; that there might be a 50% turnover in the S&P over the next few years.

Agility is survival. Traditional hub and spoke networks were designed for client-server access to centralised information by a set of known, stationary, IT-controlled endpoints. Today’s business does not operate that way.

The number and types of devices have exploded, they − and their operating systems and apps − are well beyond the control of IT. They move, they are chatty, they are everywhere. Businesses operate in the cloud, partly or wholly, with peer connectivity between private networks, private clouds, public clouds, hybrid WAN, the Internet.

Let’s take a look at the top five business trends that are currently driving network transformation.

Cyber security

Endpoint and data centre security (IT-controlled, tunnels, VPN) no longer function in this climate. Traffic patterns are meshed, devices are unpredictable and mobile, everywhere access to the Internet is near-imperative.

IOT has, and is, irreversibly changing network traffic patterns.

The network must provide the security, not the device. Anything that enters the network must be secured upon entry, upon transit, upon exit. The erstwhile perimeter of the network has disassembled. The network and security − critical with ever-mounting threats and breaches − must operate as one and the same.

Video

Video has been steadily increasing for years, but COVID-19 measures have accelerated it into an exponential surge. Users report they now feel odd talking to someone via audio only.

The ease of use brought by Facetime, Skype, Zoom and other apps has made video communication ubiquitous. Users’ expectations are on par with the TV quality of yesteryear. Poor video is untenable.

Cloud

Cloud architectures have forever altered network traffic patterns − for provider and corporate networks, and the Internet. Many newer businesses are cloud-native and cloud-only. More established businesses have private clouds connected to public clouds. Cloud drives mobility and mobility drives the cloud.

Internet of things (IOT)

No one discusses IOT as a topic of the future, primarily because it has already happened. Billions of diverse devices are already connected to the network: consumer devices, business devices, cars, sensors, cameras, industrial monitoring, surveillance, doorbells, HVAC, utility usage reporting, warehouse inventory, tracking of every conceivable kind − an endless list.

IOT has, and is, irreversibly changing network traffic patterns. Many devices lack security and open holes for hackers at network entry. Traffic from these devices will continue to surge in the years ahead, and security in the network will be ever-more critical.

Work from home

COVID-19 has also put a hockey-stick into this trend. We now know that many more jobs can be undertaken from home than we ever dreamed of. Societal behaviour of physically going places − offices, medical consultations, grocery shopping − may be permanently altered.

This too has turned network traffic upside down. We have to re-engineer, rethink, redesign. The network is at the core.

Organisations need next-gen offices that can utilise cloud-based resources and global collaboration applications, such as VOIP and video-conferencing, which require highly-scalable bandwidth.

Traditionally, this was provided with MPLS, but because today’s networks, cloud-based resources and data are constantly shifting and relocating, they have rendered those rigid connections traditionally obsolete.

In fact, as the data centre becomes increasingly virtualised and distributed, workers and resources become more mobile, and edge computing further redistributes resources, the strategy of having a core network that functions as a hub for multiple branch office spokes is collapsing.

It is being replaced with a meshed network that blends together network edge environments: cloud platforms and applications, mobile users and smart devices, IOT, 5G and edge computing, and the new WAN edge.

Cloud and SaaS are changing the way enterprises look at edge networking. Most enterprises now realise that legacy networks are not enough to keep up with the demands of current app consumption models. As companies undergo a ‘digital transformation’ and disruptive technologies like cloud, IOT and big data become mainstream, SD-WAN paves the way for a future-ready network.

Make your SD-WAN truly agile: software control, hardware-independence, cloud-native, single-stack routing and security, real-time analytics. To quote Darwin, “…to survive… is to be responsive to change.”

Andre Kannemeyer

National chief technical officer (CTO) at specialist distributor Duxbury Networking.

Andre Kannemeyer is national chief technical officer (CTO) at specialist distributor Duxbury Networking.

Based in the Cape Province, he has been with the company for 20 years and has extensive experience in the IT industry, particularly within the networking space.

Kannemeyer is a passionate, entrepreneurial and tech-savvy technologist with proven technical leadership in his interactions with all Duxbury Networking customers and partners.

As national CTO, he is responsible for looking at new trends and technologies that Duxbury could bring onboard to the benefit of the company’s customers, as well as ensuring the company continues to be a leader in the networking arena.

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