r . automation

Network automation, SASE, and 5G rated as business priorities by WWT

Dated 07/25/2022, by Michael Cooney, IDG NS (adapted from Jean Eliane), Networks, 1,408 words

According to World Wide Technology (WWT), distributed users, applications, and workloads are causing companies to rethink their network architecture.

From integrating cloud services to working properly hybrid, network managers and architects face a myriad of challenges every day. According to Neil Anderson, regional vice president of World Wide Technology, a $14.5 billion global technology services provider, large organizations are prioritizing these challenges, adapting network architecture to manage distributed applications, services, and users at scale, and to keep enterprise resources secure. The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of traditional network architectures in supporting remote workers and distractions. Anderson said that while companies were able to weather the crisis with quick fixes like VPN remote access, it became clear that fundamental structural changes were essential to long-term success. With this in mind, the latest report published by World Wide Technology provides a detailed overview of the main priorities that companies must identify in terms of networks.

Network automation initiatives on the way to maturity

The first priority is automation. Automation begins in a new phase of SDN. Anderson said the first phase was a kind of proprietary, with Cisco, for example, working with Cisco, and Aruba working with Aruba. And I think customers have tried that, and they’ve definitely taken advantage of the benefits of SDN, including programmability, he added. Now, the report from the global technology service provider indicates that customers are starting to build their automation platforms on top of the vendor platforms, and these are likely to be multi-vendor environments, with particular benefit being Red Hat and HashiCorp’s Ansible platforms to build their own. Run times and game manuals are on top of these systems, said Regional Vice President, World Wide Technology. As we’ve seen, our biggest customers are starting to build their automation business, and they’re asking us to teach them how to speed up their automation capabilities,” Anderson said.

Building automation skills is essential because while technology can be implemented to help companies that are short on IT resources, it is difficult to find automation professionals who already have the skills to do so, explained Neil Anderson. WWT offers courses, including a mentorship programme, to train existing IT personnel who are willing to learn programming skills. It is essential to learn software, configuration management, APIs, and programmability. The task is not easy, but companies should rely on structured coaching and mentoring programs to strengthen their existing teams, advised Mr. Anderson. Network professionals will also need to possess skills in artificial intelligence (AI). Anderson said a lot of the things that are going on in programmability right now could be beneficial for AI adoption. It will require a new set of skills around data processing and AI engines, with a lot of new jargon, and a plethora of different toolkits that most people don’t know about, and know how to use them less properly.

SASE, SSE and SD-WAN

Network complexity is another challenge facing businesses today. Traditional private data center networks served the need for high-performance on-premises applications. But, the number of public SaaS and cloud applications has grown exponentially, and the services of these applications are often distributed across on-premises data centers and hosting facilities. To improve connectivity and enhance security, World Wide Technology recommends that organizations look for technologies such as SD-WAN, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), and Secure Edge Service (Secure Access Service, SSE). SASE, a term coined by Gartner in 2019, describes a single, scalable, cloud-based platform that combines five major security and networking technologies: Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), Secure Web Gateways (SWG), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) Integrated SD-WAN and Firewall as a Service (FaaS).

More focused on security, SSE is SASE without SD-WAN; It combines CASB, SWG and ZTNA. While most applications have evolved to public cloud and SaaS, many communication architectures have not. SD-WAN provides a scalable and programmable solution to establish connectivity between users at branch sites, campuses, and the cloud-based workloads they access, according to a WWT report. The Secure Access Service (SASE), or more accurately the SSE part of the architecture, provides security and policy enforcement directly at the edge of the cloud. Since many employees return to the office and others stay away, network managers should evaluate SD-WAN and SASE/SSE implementation, the World Wide Technology Report recommends.

According to the WWT provider, the transition of the edge architecture to the cloud begins with a better understanding of existing traffic flows. Network administrators need to know where their applications run today and where they can run in the future. When applications are represented in this way, it is easy to visualize the suboptimal paths that traffic flows must take to get to the applications, as well as which design changes may have the greatest business impact, according to the WWT report. So many applications consume SaaS, public cloud workloads, private cloud workloads, and off-site workloads, and companies need to know how to connect users with these workloads. You can no longer connect to your data center and then go through a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to access the Internet. Mr. Anderson said it was a horrific experience for most people. Our labs allow customers to see how different components of multi-vendor SD-WAN offerings interact and how they can efficiently implement different configurations, said Neil Anderson.

5G and WiFi 6

World Wide Technology invites my business to consider private 5G as an alternative networking option for the Internet of Things, Field Area Networks (FAN), industrial and warehouse environments. As the CBRS spectrum has opened up, private 5G is certainly an option for some users, and we’re seeing government, manufacturing, utilities, energy and even certain areas of health take a serious interest in it,” Anderson announced. The seller said that companies considering LTE and 5G wireless infrastructure should start by identifying the level of business that can make the most of a dedicated cellular network, and address connectivity challenges. Consider the types of devices and gateways supported by LTE-Private over CBRS. User devices will need to support dedicated LTE and 5G frequency bands, such as the 3.5GHz CBRS band. WWT said this is often the case with newer devices, but not necessarily older devices.

WiFi 6 and 6E technologies, other WWT report priorities

The report from the global technology services provider said bandwidth requirements and device mobility will require network administrators to take a fresh look at radio frequency (RF) network planning. WiFi operators will need to consider the number of users, core applications, and how to most effectively implement the 3-band channel plan (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) to provide employees with the best possible experience. World Wide Technology said this could involve installing more access points than traditional designs.

(Photo credit Caeuje/Pixabay)

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