8 ways to make network modernization work

The pandemic has forced enterprises to rethink their operations. Now, it's time for IT leaders to put their network modernization projects in motion.

Amid all the changes the global pandemic has brought to businesses, the drive to modernize networks might be the most significant. COVID-19 affected both the physical density of employees at headquarters and the numbers and locations of branches, so businesses must adapt. Businesses should seize this opportunity to modernize their infrastructure and processes.

Let's take a look at some of the strategies businesses should consider with network modernization.

1. Move compute off-site by adopting cloud computing

Cloud computing enables a business to change from a model underpinned by Capex and depreciation to a more efficient consumption-based IT model. Development and deployment times are shortened dramatically.

2. Consider containers

As the consumption-focused business model takes root, container networking, whether it is on premises or in the cloud, creates a more efficient way to deliver services for consumption by applications. Additionally, it yields a dramatically smaller footprint than networks full of physical servers or even VMs.

3. Invest in bigger pipes

The proliferation of data, applications and services -- whether traffic is server to server or server to client -- is putting a strain on networking routes. The move to the next generation of wired networking, in the form of 2.5 Gbps client networking and 10 Gbps and 25 Gbps server networking, is underway. This will open up faster network paths to handle the upsurge in data and application needs.

4. Go big on Wi-Fi 6

On the wireless front, Wi-Fi 6 access points are beginning to reach the market from almost every vendor. This latest generation complements high-speed wired networking and provides a more flexible deployment for companies reconfiguring offices to house previously remote employees.

5. Rethink VPNs

Not every network modernization project is focused on employees returning to the physical headquarters. Some companies are seeing their modernization plans focus on turning the work-from-home model into a more permanent strategy. To support larger numbers of employees working remotely, businesses are rethinking their VPN and associated cloud computing strategies for employees who will continue working remotely.

6. Evaluate SD-WAN for remote users

Software-defined WANs (SD-WANs) provide better access, control and resilience for branch offices, as well as optimize remote access to cloud applications. Some businesses are even considering deploying SD-WAN endpoints for their high-value remote users because the technology provides a better always-on experience than the typical VPN connection.

7. Adopt automation

With administration tasks scaling faster than resources, businesses need to work smarter, not harder. Automation, especially when linked to business cases or business rules processing, enables a company to be more efficient and responsive to administrative requests.

8. Use crucial advanced reporting, backed by AI

All these network modernization and IT changes create a far more complex and data-intensive corporate environment. With so much instrumentation, advanced reporting projects become more important for businesses to stay on top of change. AI, used to help analyze and identify trends and provide early warnings on security issues, will become more common as modernized networks get more complex.

This was last published in March 2021

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