Modernize your network management in these three ways
Article by Justin Chiah, Senior Director, South East Asia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (SEATH) at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
The global pandemic did more than add 70 million users to the Internet in Southeast Asia, it put a spotlight on digital connectivity, and how strained global networks have become. It is not just the loud cries of consumers complaining about their buffering Netflix streams, but corporate citizens trying to get work done and ensure that business operations–from manufacturing to health care to banking–all just work, and are unhindered by the network.
Users are not always conscious (nor do they care) that CIOs and CTOs are already juggling “best-of-breed” solutions to power network workflows and the demands of remote working. COVID-19 just made it that much more obvious that network management still has a long way to go.
The challenges of a fragmented network
That’s because today’s distributed networks are managed in siloed and fragmented ways. “Best-of-breed” solutions may have their advantages, but they do not always give administrators the best control over consistent visibility, network management, and security across the vast cyber landscape.
The challenges of a distributed network are coming to the fore, even as organizations are looking to bounce back to pre-pandemic business functions and operationalize their digitalization efforts of the last couple of years to drive performance through automation, IoT, and other emerging technologies.
Compounding the problems most organizations face today is the fact that most rely on a variety of different providers, and that in today’s hybrid work environment, the points of connections have become innumerable, perplexing network management teams even further.
Indeed, network management has become a highly laborious, inefficient, and costly affair, to say nothing of the work needed to mitigate cyber threat exposure.
So, how does one begin to manage this complexity?
A single unified platform for network management
It is long overdue for organizations to modernize the operations and management of their networks with the adoption of a “single-pane-of-glass”. While many vendors preach it, achieving it is immensely difficult. The reality is, administrators already have a single-pane-of-glass, but ironically, each “pane of glass” is single-serving: one for the wired network, and separate ones for the wireless network, security infrastructure, storage, servers, the cloud, and so on.
Building a true single-pane-of-glass is not just complex, it is also very expensive. Bringing it together will require broad adoption of standardized APIs, visualization frameworks, widgets from different product vendors, and more. But a single-pane-of-glass can improve operational flexibility, reduce access points to connect IoT devices and provide efficacy in cybersecurity mitigation.
The path to a single-pane-of-glass is still achievable today. Organizations can begin by considering network equipment vendors that espouse solutions that already provide a single point of visibility and control powered by AI and the cloud to oversee every aspect of the network–wired, wireless, WANs, VPNs across a campus, brand, remote, and data center locations–to make its management as simple as it can be, all powered by the cloud.
Purposeful use of AI and Automation for network management
According to IDC, 75% of Global 2000 IT organizations will adopt artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) to transform their IT workforce by 2023. Similarly, a BCC Research report predicts that the global market for AIOps will grow three-fold and exceed USD$9 billion by 2026 from USD$3 billion in 2021.
For modern networks to adapt to the faster pace of digital transformation–organizations need to rethink their posture on AIOps. In the area of network management, AIOps can give organizations a leg up through better monitoring and troubleshooting. For instance, a full-service AI-powered solution based on machine learning models can train to surface and diagnose common network-impacting issues consistently and reliably. Intelligent operations can be tuned automatically based on changing conditions to ensure the network is performing in tip-top shape. Having a self-driving network can reduce up to 90% of human intervention and improve networks by up to 25%.
AI also reduces the time IT teams spend on administrative tasks like troubleshooting, whether it is isolating a problem impacting a specific user or device. It even follows through with event-driven automation to collect diagnostics. This “self-healing” network drives productivity and performance and simplifies the task of system updates, which traditionally requires large amounts of downtime, something many industries (healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, banking) cannot afford. A smart network can enable updates at any time without external intervention and minimizes (or even eliminates) downtime.
How can businesses secure their network infrastructures and systems?
Today’s threat landscape continues to evolve at a faster pace than humans can decode and prevent. A recent report found that only 20% said that their security infrastructure was prepared to handle these changes. With more remote users connecting from just about anywhere, users, devices, and data are now being created and stored virtually everywhere–visibility and control over network security are getting easily lost. Traditional perimeter-based security is no longer enough.
Secure access service edge (SASE) offers a unique solution. As a unified threat and data protection platform, SASE provides a simpler way of making security roles and policies across wired, wireless, and WAN more coherent. SASE also transforms WAN and security architectures so that enterprises have direct and secure access to applications and services across the multi-cloud no matter where users reside.
That more businesses–both large and small–have gone digital is not in doubt, but what the trend has done is put a spotlight on the state of network infrastructure today. It’s not even a matter of users wondering aloud “where’s my internet” when their internet connection starts buffering. People–consumers, corporate users, and business leaders–are not always conscious (nor do they care) that getting things done means that their CIOs and CTOs are juggling “best-of-breed” to power network workflows and the demands of remote working. But these solutions are often siloed and distributed.
There is a better way to network management today that’s cloud-native and built to service any-sized networks. Through the combination of a single-pane-of-glass, AIOps, and a unified security platform, organizations finally have the tools that will empower their administrators in this new normal.
The views in this article is that of the author and may not reflect the views of Tech Wire Asia
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