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Considerations for modernizing your network

IT Best Practices Alert By Linda Musthaler, Network World
March 30, 2012 02:01 PM ET
Linda Musthaler
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In last week's article, "The 2012 State of the Network Report," I outlined some of the key findings from a Network Instruments survey about what is having the greatest impact on corporate networks this year. Survey respondents cited the following:

• Video is beginning to have a big impact on network resource management, with 70% of all participants saying they have implemented or will implement a video-based solution within a year.

• Bandwidth demands are surging. Two-thirds of respondents expect general traffic volumes to increase 25% to 50% in the coming year.

• Cloud implementations remain strong, with 60% of the respondents reporting that half of their applications will run in the cloud within the next 12 months.

• As applications become more complex and tiered, the ability to resolve service delivery issues grows. Some 83% of the respondents have difficulty troubleshooting application issues.

Of course, those of you in the trenches know there are more issues impacting your network than just those listed above. Of key importance is the fact that most enterprises are phasing in the next era of computing, where infrastructures are converging and applications and resources are virtualized and in the cloud.

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Armed with this information, I talked to some folks in the Hewlett-Packard Networking Group to get their take on what organizations should be doing to modernize their networks to support these emerging and future needs. Their recommendations, in no particular order, include:

• Prepare for the onslaught of BYOD (bring your own device).

• Prepare to support unified communications & collaboration (UC&C).

• Integrate security into every aspect of the network.

• Flatten network layers when possible.

• Segment your network.

• Consider a multi-network environment.

• Opt for a single-pane-of-glass management platform.

Get ready for BYOD: The "bring your own device" phenomenon is challenging virtually every IT department these days. Not only are companies struggling with how to manage these mobile devices and the data that gets onto them, but there's also the issue of how to allow users to connect to the network.

The preferred way will be through wireless LANs (WLAN) rather than lower speed 3G or 4G networks, especially as these personal devices supplant traditional PCs and notebooks in the workplace. Having more users accessing the WLAN means you will need increased network capacity and throughput. If you haven't re-evaluated your WLAN strategy in the past year, it's time to do so. New wireless solutions on the market today improve the users' connection experience while also reducing complexity and resource requirements.

CASE STUDY: IBM CIO discusses Big Blue's BYOD strategy

UC&C is on the rise: Network Instruments points out that video on the network is coming on strong. In addition to video, there's a broad interest in UC&C, including telepresence, Voice over IP, and up-and-coming social business solutions. And, as workers bring their own devices and become more mobile, they will need location-aware capabilities that will allow enterprise communication systems to find them wherever they are working. UC&C will put some heavy-duty demands on your network, so consider how it impacts latency and quality of service.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation.

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