- For years, enterprises invested in ‘good enough’ networks merely to make sure the plumbing connected everything together functionally.
- With cloud adoption rapidly increasing, fewer applications residing on-premises, and business continuity depending on 24×7 network access, enterprises need to re-think the network design and approach.
Enterprise networks were designed for years (and, to a large degree, still are) for three application areas: campus (or access), core, and data center. With cloud and ‘anywhere’ access of mission-critical applications, users must have quality access to resources no matter the connection point. Whether wired Ethernet, WLAN, wireless 3G/4G, or other means, downtime is unacceptable. Yet, as RFQs go out, access resilience is missing or getting surprisingly low priority. I contend that enterprises must raise the stakes and invest in redundant power, resilient management (whether in-box or in-stack), resilient protocols, and ultimately solid management interfaces (assurance, monitoring, orchestration, etc.). Now, it is true that redundant links have become more prominent with the availability of commercial cable and DSL at aggressive prices (relative to fractional T and frame a decade ago), yet within the campus, surprisingly few switches or WLAN have RPS or resilient, distributed uplinks.
As cloud attachment increases, storage becomes even more distributed (another topic worthy of discussion), and business continuity depends on “five-nines” uptime, enterprises should evaluate all elements within their network and attach greater weight and priority to highly resilient access models. Having both wired and wireless technologies today is a byproduct of WLAN historically being a ‘nice-to-have’ technology rather than a necessity; however, as 802.11ac becomes available next year, wired access is likely to see an aggressive decline in new deployments. Therefore, enterprises should spend considerable effort when designing the next WLAN architecture to ensure every measure is taken to provide for considerably higher network resiliency than in the past. The incremental increase in cost for the infrastructure is offset by the exponentially high cost of downtime. Bottom line: It is worth the investment, and it is the right time.