Tackling the network dread ahead

Network management is about to get a lot more challenging, thanks to the rise of mobile computing and remote corporate-network access via offsite hubs. Thankfully, the IT industry has new solutions, from application visibility to network-as-a-service.

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In a new report, IT market-watch firm ZK Research predicts that many businesses are about to face a network management nightmare.

Lead analyst Zeus Kerravala describes the coming cauchemar. He points out that within the average enterprise today, there are approximately two network-connected devices for each employee. But by 2020, that ratio will balloon to seven devices per worker, thanks to the proliferation of web-linked sensors, appliances and other items that constitute the Internet of things (IoT).

That’s not the only problem. Consider as well the rise of mobile computing and remote corporate-network access via offsite hubs like Wi-Fi hotspots. Remote connectivity is already associated with an increase in attacks on business networks, as hackers piggyback on users’ not-so-secure links into companies’ computing assets.

Kerravala says the number of attacks on business networks will increase tenfold by 2020 — creating “an asymmetric problem for security teams as they need to protect hundreds or even thousands of entry points, while hackers merely need to find one to get in.”

Waking from the network management nightmare

So what to do? The industry has a few ideas. Kerravala, for one, argues that application “visibility” is the key. Visibility means monitoring the traffic each application generates to uncover potential weak spots with respect to security and network management. When technology overseers zero in on problems such as transmission delays and packet loss related to specific applications, they also find potential risks.

In a piece for Business Cloud News, Alcatel Lucent Enterprises marketing executive Manish Sablok says organizations should pair network management with big data. Software that analyzes network traffic not only reports on congestion, but also predicts future patterns, so IT departments can get ahead of impending communications challenges.

Another response is the network-as-a-service (NaaS) concept. As a recent Webtorials article explains, NaaS allows applications to request bandwidth when needed. It’s efficient, cost effective and ideally suited to unified communications, remote data centre backup and other traffic-intensive uses.

We’ll likely see more news and analysis of the NaaS idea, as well as application visibility and big data for networks. If the ZK Research report proves accurate, people charged with ensuring fast and secure information-movement across networks will need advanced data-management capabilities. Otherwise a potential network technology nightmare could become a waking horror.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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