Dimension Data > Networking > Translating organisational networks for the modern age

Translating organisational networks for the modern age

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Lawrence van Deusen | Group Networking Practice Director: Wired and Wireless

In the digital, connected world, the traditional enterprise network of today is unable to support the needs of the organisation in the future.

The agile enterprise network leverages the concept and technology of the intent-based network to create a solution that is cognitive and capable of understanding how to apply business policy and business logic to support applications and users. It is defined not by a singular technology toolset, but by the sum of its parts – automation, machine learning, security, data and intelligence – and it presents a significant shift in how the network is managed, maintained and implemented.

Agile enterprise networking provides an impressive resume of services structured on the intent-based networking premise and delivers measurable benefits to the business.

 

Time to scale

The first is the ability of this type of network to do things to scale. Agile enterprise networking is capable of managing the incredible influx of new devices that have to be connected thanks to enterprise mobility, cloud and the Internet of Things. Existing networks do not have the agility to scale and control the challenges that this digital tsunami introduces. Regardless of the number of people thrown at a problem, the ability to maintain and update the networking environment is rapidly becoming impossible on a manual level.

Mundane and repeatable tasks can and should be automated.  Machines don’t make mistakes and, if an element of logic is introduced, they can make certain decisions at a speed which humans cannot. Agile enterprise networking capitalises on the capabilities of automation and machine learning to enhance the speed of performance, reduce the pressure on manual input and transform how the network adapts to business demand.

This underscores not just the change brought on by digital and disruption, but the change that the organisation has to embrace to ensure it can support the digital, connected world within which its people and applications reside. To evolve and take advantage of the digital paradigm, the organisation has to adapt.

Agile enterprise networking also capitalises on the benefits of data science and machine learning. It allows for improvements in prediction and capabilities within the network and introduces a level of proficiency few organisations have today. The bank, the retailer, the manufacturer – the industries that don’t live inside IT are those that want IT to work for them. They want to leverage IT and invest in solutions that are designed around the digital demand and transformation imperative. They want richer analysis and connectivity, without the increased demand on personnel or IT understanding. Therein lies one of the fundamental benefits of the agile enterprise network – it’s designed to capitalise on the digital currency that is data while minimising the need to manage and wrestle with the complexities of your infrastructure.

It allows for the organisation to accelerate and adapt with an infrastructure that can support a rapid rate of change. It also allows for a far more robust security implementation that’s capable of responding rapidly, intelligently recognising and understanding threats in real time, and able to potentially prevent future attacks.

A secure approach

Traditional networks approach the security conundrum by applying policy at the infrastructure level by incorporating traditional firewalls, security devices et al, implementing these at the point of user connect. The user then accesses different devices on different networks using different applications that may or may not reside on their LAN. Security has to be embedded, the users and things require a particular persona and policy, and these have to be accessible across the entire infrastructure. On top of that, these need to be independent from the infrastructure that uses the fabric and the network has to be capable of repeating tasks on demand. Actually, most networks today can already do that, so why bother with the agile enterprise networking?

The difference is that within the agile enterprise network you can reconfigure policy, bind certain users to specific units for access control, connect these configs to other security components on the firewall, and so much more, just by inserting the business logic. The agile network determines whether or not a request is functional while simultaneously verifying performance, the characteristics of the network as it relates to the users, and the applications it is connected to. It is capable of turning action into action across the entire network infrastructure without the need of user input.

It is worth noting that there is a significant difference between agile enterprise networking and software-defined networking. The former takes elements of the latter in order to abstract and virtualise, while the latter is more about the server, the application and configuring to the vision. The agile enterprise network is an end-to-end system that’s built on policy and user-requirements, all the way up to the application level, that understands how change will impact the network, and that can predict an issue before it happens. It is the technology that allows for the business to retain its competitive edge as it can potentially alter its future.

Investment into the agile enterprise network is a journey. It complements gaps in skill and capability, it enhances business capability and security, and it’s integral to the organisation’s ability to take advantage of digital and data. Self-learning, self-healing, capable of adapting to changing roadmaps and demands, agile enterprise networking can transform the business environment into one that’s both adaptive and competitive.

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