Enterprise networks of the past were static, linking servers in the data center or department to personal desktop computers and storage in a configuration that would stay intact for months or maybe even years. As a result, managing those networks was pretty straightforward.
In today’s interconnected world, networks are more critical than ever for business operations. Current enterprise networks rely heavily on the Internet as the pathway between themselves and their customers/business partners. Organizations are rapidly adopting a wide range of technologies that inherently rely on the network. These technologies include virtualized infrastructure that is constantly changing — including private and public clouds and a myriad of new personal mobile devices such as the iPad and smartphones — many of which are outside the control of IT managers.
New applications such as video and web conferencing and new technologies such as VOIP and WiFi are placing demands for increased bandwidth on networks that are already overburdened, while the stress and complexity on the network is not expected to slow down. In fact, forecasts show that by 2016, the number of devices connected to IP networks will be nearly three times the global population (Cisco, “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016,” May 30, 2012). Worldwide, mobile data traffic is expected to increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016 (Cisco, “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016,” May 30, 2012.). It’s getting hard to figure out where the networks begin and end in today’s dynamic world.
Consider these scenarios:
An employee working from home needs to get a critical report sent to his management team to help close a big customer deal. The network goes down, preventing him from sending the file; the deal is lost.
Taking care of an elderly parent on a fixed income, a daughter tries to order medications for her mother before the time runs out on her medical flex account. The network is down and she is unable submit the order in time, so the funds are lost.
Working against a tight deadline, a critical decision needs to be made by executives on a new initiative. A video conference is needed to bridge all the company’s leaders together. Due to issues with the video conference, they lose out on a great opportunity to launch their company into a new business.
It’s the network that allows people, devices, applications, and systems to connect to anyone, anything, at anytime, from anywhere around the world. Treating network reliability as a given is something we can no longer afford and therefore, we must fundamentally reinvent the way we think about and manage networks or we will be unprepared for the challenges ahead. The future of business will ride on the network, and that future is today.
We in IBM are positioning our development and research efforts to help with more effective tools and management practices to help prevent network outages before they occur.
What are your thoughts when it comes to your Network?
If you want to learn more about what IBM is doing to help, listen to the joint InformationWeek/IBM Webcast on demand replay: ‘Preventing Costly Network Outages in Today’s Mobile and Cloud World’.
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