- Fifty to one hundred applications is the norm, rather than the five to ten apps of yesteryear.
- Devices are also changing, with laptops now accompanied by smartphones and tablets.
On a recent business trip to Paris, guests of the hotel had to pay upwards of EUR 12 to access the in-room Internet service. However, WiFi was free in the hotel lobby, and as a result, a dozen Web users were in the lobby at any one time half accessing this ‘free’ Internet experience via a whole variety of handhelds. Surely, this puts unsurpassed demand on the WLAN link in the lobby and results in lower revenues for the hotel from in-room access. It can be argued that today’s work places face similar network and IT challenges, with workers entering the work space with all kinds of handhelds for conducting business and accessing the Internet and applications from any location. Some companies ban certain social media Web sites, whilst others allow and encourage these, understanding that the new generation of Twitters, Facebooks, Salesforce.coms, etc., are entering the business realm as professional tools and for collaboration. IT managers could throw bandwidth at the issue, but the result may well be simply an improved viewing experience on YouTube, rather than the desired effect of having certain business applications perform better.
The traditional method of prioritizing traffic over MPLS is by defining QoS on traffic types, namely real-time, voice, data, and mission-critical. MPLS is well suited to this, and it has been entirely satisfactory for networks under the older traditional enterprise model with fewer applications and more premises-based software. However, all this is changing rapidly, and it does not take into account end-to-end performance of a given application and the numerous devices that can put unknown loads over specific HTTP links. Belgacom recently announced what it claims to be a European first with its ‘Smart Networking’ service that runs on its MPLS ‘Explore’ platform. The carrier’s ‘AAN’ offering, or Belgacom Smart Applications Aware Networking, puts individual applications or applications groupings under their own separate QoS definitions. Applications performance management can be a costly business, because it demands the positioning of a CPE device, but Belgacom AAN is entirely network-based, making the solution more appropriate for the mass market. Thus, service providers should be entering the market with new network-based models. Belgacom expects a full commercial launch of AAN during March 2012. Finally, IT managers should be discussing the new realities of employee behavior in terms of devices and applications, and seeking the service of a carrier that is speaking the same language to provide cost-effective solutions in an evolving data network service.