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EXCLUSIVE: A modern network focused on the user experience

By , Business Unit Lead Collaboration & Networking at Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa
Africa , 13 Feb 2023
Lionel Dartnall, Westcon-Comstor Collaboration Manager.
Lionel Dartnall, Westcon-Comstor Collaboration Manager.

There has been a significant shift to the cloud in recent years. When combined with the growth of 5G technology thanks to the hybrid working environment, organisations must carefully consider how best to manage disaggregated network technologies.

If connected devices on the edge of the network are to be effective, they need to reside in edge clouds, distributed across the metro, and closer to the end user.

This will require communication service providers (CSPs) to deploy datacentres across their networks to support virtualised infrastructure and the applications and services that run on them. Of course, building and managing these remote, distributed datacentres while interconnecting them with one another and end users and then managing the content and services that run across them are challenging.

Added to this is the burden of legacy solutions that invariably result in vendor lock-in, increased complexity, and an inability to scale according to network demand.

The time has come to embrace micro-serviced based, cloud-native solutions.

It starts here

Cloud-native networking solutions take full advantage of the agility and resiliency of the cloud. CSPs can deploy network infrastructure and services seamlessly across multiple datacentres using these solutions. And with cloud-native automation solutions, they can deploy, monitor, and manage their virtualised network infrastructure and services from a centralised location.

By simplifying operational complexity and enabling the delivery of highly resilient, agile, and portable infrastructure and services, they can provide a much better end-user experience.

By combining cloud fabric infrastructure with automation, security, and a robust multivendor ecosystem, the ideal solution is based on a hybrid model that enables service providers to deploy their own private clouds and work with hyperscalers where it makes economic sense.

It all begins with a universal cloud fabric architecture for datacentres. This should comprise of switching, routing, and security infrastructure. By combining those components with an intent-based multivendor fabric management solution, CSPs can automate the entire lifecycle of the datacentre fabric.

Think of it as a more innovative way to democratise the operational best practices that have driven the cloud. As such, this approach elevates the operations above the devices, allowing people to focus on what they want, not how to get it.

By simplifying cloud complexity and shifting to a cloud-native environment, a modern infrastructure solution accelerates the transition to next-gen networks and their ability to support business customers in their digital transformations. But it is not only just about the cloud. Local environments can also benefit from rethinking traditional infrastructure approaches.

Taking it local

This is where the SD-branch comes into play. While not new, the availability of more advanced technology and changing user expectations around the workplace experience mean there is more of a focus on going beyond the 'do more with less mentality.

Networking success has moved beyond connectivity and uptime. It is now based on the experience being provided to the end users. Are end users able to do their jobs efficiently? Do they have constant, on-demand access to the tools, applications and data needed to be successful? These are the measuring sticks for today’s networks.

Modern SD-branch solutions need everything from improved security capabilities, the incorporation of automated tools to enable traffic optimisation, tools that unify and simplify management, and a cloud-first approach. Part of this entails incorporating the SD-WAN into an SD-branch solution to both strengthen and simplify IT infrastructure management.

Enter the AI-driven SD-branch solution. This can simplify branch-office communications with AI-driven, software-defined routing, switching, Wi-Fi, and security delivered from the cloud.

Furthermore, the approach can result in visibility into the real-time service levels of individual users. Effectively, network administrators can continuously fine-tune the network and optimise user experiences. Network configuration, deployment, and operations across wired and wireless LANs and WANs are simplified with cloud-based management tools that allow IT teams to do more with less.

With such an AI-enabled networking environment in place, companies can optimise the user experience through improved uptime. Accelerating troubleshooting with AI-driven insights across the network becomes a matter of course. Additionally, this can bring about enhanced branch security. An integrated AI solution can safeguard users and devices while streamlining IT operations.

Being able to access the data and applications when required must be a given

Think of integrating Zero Trust security into the core infrastructure driven by secure vector routing and deny-by-default access policies. The branch becomes significantly more simplified and secure.

The lesson here is that networking is now about the user experience. Being able to access the data and applications when required must be a given. How it is done through AI-enabled environments will be the key to modern business success.

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