Networks Lag Behind Virtualization and Cloud
Advances in virtualization and cloud computing have introduced new dynamics — such as physical distance, distributed systems and large influxes of data — to IT operations. However, the network has remained fairly stable over the past few years, with few innovations of the same magnitude.
As a result, “the network itself is not architected to handle the post-PC environment rapidly developing at many businesses,” according to InfoWorld’s Galen Grumman in his article “In the Smartphone Era, Why is your LAN Still Dumb?”
Network Management Challenges
Anonymous User Connections
As explained in the same InfoWorld article: LANs were designed with the assumption that people would be using desktop computers. Users were then identified based on the Ethernet port connected to their PCs.
When wireless LANs were rolled out, most companies implemented an access-point password management system, which enabled anyone that knew the password to be able to connect to the network.
However, this presents management problems as smartphones and tablets rise in popularity. When multiple devices access the network with the same password, there are little monitoring capabilities in place. Outside of general traffic numbers, administrators typically can’t track what devices were on their network, nor their consumption activity.
In addition to network-management problems, limited monitoring capabilities also bring security issues, surrounding who is accessing the network and in what capacity.
Slow Network Management
Along similar lines, network management also needs “to be speedier, more efficient and automated to keep up” with virtual machines (VMs) which can quickly navigate the data center.
As Shamus McGillicuddy explains it in the article “Navigating the Road to Flatter, Converged Data Center Networks:” “Now that data centers are more geographically dispersed, enterprises will be looking to stretch their Layer 2 networks to ensure smoother movement of VMs and other traffic between data centers.”
Network Performance Challenges
Distributed Data Sources
As cloud vendors host more data, performance challenges associated with handling traffic originating from outside your own network also come into play.
In the article, “Virtualization, Cloud Computing Put New Stress on Networks,” Lenny Heymann, managing director of Interlop states, “When you could control it [data] from end to end, you could control performance better… Different issues get involved when you’re pulling data out of public cloud datacenters.”
Increasing Bandwidth Demands
Couple this with the fact that most wireless LANs are not equipped to handle the bandwidth required to meet increasing mobile adoption, and companies have some serious performance issues to consider.
Opportunity for Network Innovation
The above network management and performance challenges open the door for innovations in enterprise networking, similar to those seen in computing.
Some recent innovations include:
We’re excited to see what else is in store, as vendors and customers place a larger focus on the network, and making it smarter and more efficient.
- What innovative network solutions have you seen to improve management and performance?
- What network challenges are you facing as a result of new computing technologies?
Darin Haines is Group President of MCPc's Advanced Technology Group - Delivery Division and has over 16 years of experience in leading the technology function in mid-sized and enterprise-level organizations. Connect with Darin on LinkedIn.
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