Today’s IT network needs to be designed and managed to meet the needs of the borderless enterprise, with users increasingly consuming cloud-hosted applications over wireless networks. This requires complete end to end visibility to manage performance in a network which no longer has physical barriers.
Companies have come a long way since former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch first coined the expression ‘the boundaryless organisation’ – now more usually termed ‘the borderless enterprise’. He quite rightly believed that organisations would be much more effective if they could break down the organisational, geographical and cultural barriers between departments and employees.
The key to this way of working is the enterprise network. Information from all parts of the enterprise has to be instantly available to employees who need it, regardless of their location or time zone, and they expect to be able to work anywhere, at any time and from any device. As a result, organisations are developing increasingly complex IT infrastructures based on cloud-hosted applications and increasingly wireless access. The downside to this lack of borders includes both an increasingly blurred line between work and leisure time and a significant security challenge.
Infrastructures Will Become Increasingly ‘Cloudy’
The growth of the borderless enterprise will see organisations moving to an increasingly off-premise infrastructure. More and more applications will be virtualised and delivered from the cloud, enabling costs to move from CAPEX to OPEX using a ‘pay as you go’ model.
Data centres will be managed for agility as well as efficiency. Most organisations have already implemented server virtualisation, and the next step will be network virtualisation. Application development will use a service based architecture (PaaS and IaaS), while some applications will be delivered through SaaS so will bypass the data centre completely.
Carrier connectivity and performance will become increasingly critical to the performance of the WAN, with many organisations choosing dual carrier solutions (including wireless) for failover. WAN acceleration will help to optimise WAN efficiency, and real time, unified communication will drive CoS/QoS requirements.
Desktops and networks will also be virtualised and users will expect 24×7 access from any location, primarily wireless using WiFi or 3G/4G. With many users already accessing the enterprise network via their own personal devices, organisations will need to consider how much additional bandwidth they will need.
Managing The Borderless Infrastructure
One of the big challenges for the borderless enterprise is managing this new type of infrastructure. When application problems occur in a borderless enterprise, the organisation first has to determine if the problem is located in their own infrastructure or that of their cloud or wireless provider before they can go about solving the issue.
The solution is a management system which takes an application-centric view of everything happening across the network, with comprehensive visibility from the user device to the data centre. This has been variously termed Network Performance Management and Diagnostics (NPMD) and Application Aware Network and performance Management (AANPM).
It helps overcome the visibility challenges presented by virtualisation, BYOD and cloud based services by providing end-to-end visibility of network, applications and their interdependencies, and enabling engineers to monitor and optimise the end user experience.
A key advantage of using AANPM/NMPD is that it provides instant real-time bandwidth usage reports on top applications, conversations and hosts, helping to show where and how the network is busy and distinguish critical business usage from recreational or non-critical usage. So when a link is busy, for example, it will show whether it is due to use of a business application, or the breaking news story that everyone is streaming to their desktop. This also helps organisations to monitor cloud service delivery and ensure their providers are meeting their SLAs.