The Evolving Enterprise & Self-Driving Networks
Whilst enterprise computing and communications is evolving, corporate networking is undergoing a major sea-change.
Enterprise computing, communications and networking are changing. Mission-critical applications have moved out of corporate datacenters and now live in the cloud. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications such as salesforce.com led the charge, but now even communication applications are moving from locally hosted on-premises solutions to virtual solutions in the cloud. The benefits to corporations are numerous, with the most obvious being lower management costs, improved reliability and effortless scalability. However, this migration to the cloud has brought about some unanticipated complications. Enterprise networking, as we know it, is rapidly being replaced by something altogether new and foreign: self-driving networks.
In the halcyon pre-cloud days, companies deployed productivity and communication solutions exclusively in their own datacenters, with IT staff managing server farms and telephony point solutions. Teams of networking professionals, again employed by the enterprise itself, built out networks often using routers that required arcane programming skills at the Command Line Interface, or CLI. Once configured, these network components had no ability to adjust their configurations dynamically based on changing network conditions. When conditions changed significantly, these devices often failed or had to be manually reconfigured.
Another difficulty lay in the network architecture required to support remote offices. Since reliability and security were paramount for access to datacenter applications, remote offices had to be connected to the headquarters using dedicated leased line or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections. These were and continue to be difficult to provision or maintain, and remain expensive.
Fast forward to today when many enterprise productivity applications have moved, or are moving, to the cloud. Applications that used to be accessed over a dedicated link to the corporate datacenter, are now accessed over the Internet to a virtual server in the cloud. Running in third-party datacenters, it’s difficult and expensive to connect to via a dedicated circuit; thus, MPLS for instance, is a poor solution for cloud-based CRM, videoconferencing and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), to name but three.
Indeed, instead of voice calls going from a remote office over a dedicated circuit to an on-premises phone switch at the corporate office, they now travel over the Internet to the virtual server. Similarly, videoconferencing sessions are now completed at the application provider’s hosting site at Amazon Web Services or an equivalent. With this shift of mission critical productivity and interactive communication applications to the cloud, comes a heightened requirement to guarantee performance of the underlying network. Leased lines and MPLS won’t cut it.
What’s to be done?
Welcome to the era of self-driving networks, where important traffic is steered over the fastest Internet link and performance is managed dynamically based on actual network capacity. In this era, network components dynamically determine the fastest link themselves, so that transient bottlenecks can be avoided. Steering is carried out over the access, backbone and core portions of the applications’ connection, so that intelligent switching can be maintained from the edge device to the cloud application. Quality of Service (QoS) is maintained by assigning interactive traffic such as IP telephony and videoconferencing guaranteed priority, while simultaneously managing the overall profile of all traffic types.
Self-driving networks can be considered a super-set of Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), where an overlay network provides greater control and flexibility for the underlying traffic. The differences mount up when configuration, maintenance and scope are considered. Truly self-driving networks need to be plug-n-play, maintenance-free and, most importantly, provide quality service for every application over every connection and for every device.
InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) from InSpeed Networks is the leading self-driving network technology. IQS provides reliable network connectivity over the most exacting connections and for the most demanding traffic type - interactive voice and video. IQS Streamlines the Internet so that clear voice calls, artifact-free video, and responsive applications become the norm.
As the first approved SD-WAN vendor in the ShoreTel TechConnect program, InSpeed Networks is a sponsor of the 2016 ShoreTelOne Global Partner Conference, a gathering of ShoreTel’s channel partners and distributors as well as industry analysts and consultants from around the globe. The event will take place the week of Dec. 5 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla. Learn more about the conference here.
Lawrence Ebringer is a seasoned entrepreneur with more than 25 years experience in management, marketing and finance. He has led global marketing initiatives at both public and private companies in the fields of networking systems, SaaS, semiconductors, consumer hardware and biotechnology. At InSpeed he runs strategy, drives awareness of new market categories and scales demand gen.