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Unified management - the future of the enterprise

By Martin May, regional director of Enterasys Networks

Read time 4min 10sec

As many organisations are discovering, gaining an acceptable return on investment from corporate networks with separate wired and wireless network management systems is challenging in today's modern business environment.

The consumerisation and mobilisation of IT has changed the corporate landscape by enabling employees to use their personal, WiFi-enabled smartphones, laptops and tablet computers as their primary networking devices in the workplace. It's a development that has gained considerable traction in the last year, thanks to the broad acceptance of bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives.

As today's workforce uses a variety of wired and wireless devices, IT departments are now challenged to provide an open networking environment that integrates traditional wired and modern wireless components, while maintaining security over corporate data and intellectual property and ensuring compliance with acceptable user policies, says Martin May, regional director of Enterasys Networks.

Unified network management is the solution. A unified network is one that integrates wired and wireless network elements, rather than having them exist as two separate entities operating in parallel.

Unified network management means having one console handling common wired and wireless network functionality. This includes planning, provisioning, configuring and the monitoring of network performance, security and integrity.

The single console should include a number of unique features that are essential to wireless network management, including connection reliability, spectrum management and monitoring, as well as location and tracking functionality.

For many organisations, transitioning from a primary wired Ethernet infrastructure to a unified wired and wireless LAN is becoming a top priority in the wake of increased use by employees of multiple operating systems and multimedia services, together with the adoption of new-generation cloud technologies, all driven by rising BYOD adoption.

Dynamic network demands of this nature are undermining the efficiencies of many traditional corporate networks, a significant number of which are falling behind in terms of delivering secure services to their diversified user communities - with potentially disastrous security repercussions.

Planning is important when considering a transition to integrated network management. Delivering applications to mobile users on a large scale requires a fresh approach to architecting wired and wireless networks. Continuing to treat them as separate access networks doesn't make business sense as it significantly adds to complexity, high costs and an unpredictable mobile user experience.

An integrated architecture for unified wired/wireless networking should simplify the access layer architecture and provide the IT department with granular controls to securely manage and deploy mission-critical business apps and services for both mobile and desk-bound users.

While almost every networking device in use today has a wireless interface, many of them still have a wired connection port that users can employ when working from their desks. This presents IT staff with the challenge of creating a fully integrated, easily managed and secure access layer network that provides transparent and always-on wired-to-wireless edge services.

When planning to achieve these and other goals, vendor selection becomes a key consideration. Enterasys Networks, a pioneer in the wireless networking arena, has rolled out an edge networking architecture that unifies wired and wireless networks while emphasising consistent performance and security.

The Enterasys OneFabric Edge solution allows organisations to consolidate management and security of both wired and wireless networks into one virtual platform. Mobile application delivery can be managed with 'a single pane of glass', resulting in simplified management, minimising staff requirements.

OneFabric Edge comprises an integrated wired/wireless network that delivers complete visibility and control over each connected user and device to guarantee the same user experience throughout the entire network. Significantly, it comes with a 'wireless services engine' - essentially a virtualised wireless LAN (WLAN) controller - for apps services. A 'first' for the industry, it offers an integrated virtual platform to facilitate control, security and management functions.

What are the benefits? Firstly, the IT department is given greater visibility into the network and the ability to deliver applications to mobile devices from virtual servers, keeping pace with developments in cloud computing and data centre technologies.

In summary, OneFabric Edge meets the demands of today's mobile users who require high bandwidth network access and a consistent user experience wherever they are located within the enterprise. And it addresses the need for complete accessibility to all applications that increasingly have real-time traffic and quality of service (QoS) requirements.

Using an open-standards approach, the Enterasys architecture maximises application performance and increases business agility, at the same time providing users with a future-proofed, unified wired/wireless edge solution.

Editorial contacts
Extreme Networks Dana Bureau (011) 351 9600 dbureau@enterasys.co.za
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