by Stuart Hardy, Business Unit Manager of EOH’s Carrier and Network Solutions Division
With so much information available to on how best to run networks, things can get a bit confusing as one gets bogged down in all the details. So in providing a set of networking best practices, rather than write out a list of dos and don’ts, here we set out some of the most important considerations to take into account in the pursuit of best practice network implementation and management.
Recognise the full demands placed on networking
Networking is becoming an increasingly critical component of IT infrastructure. But it’s no longer just about connecting a limited number of clients to a fixed wired network infrastructure. These days physical, virtual and cloud-based resources need to be connected with users. There is constant pressure applied by the rest of the IT organisation, not to mention the user community, for the network to be 100% available and optimally performing.
This means that networking planning, engineering and operations all need to be improved to meet new demands.
This includes recognising how network management tools can best be deployed to help improve operational efficiency, communicate within and outside operations teams, reduce operating risks and ensure optimal performance with the necessary resilience.
Of course network architecture and networking products will take care of most of this challenge, but that’s not enough. The gaps still need to be filled and the pieces pulled together in a unified manner. To this end network management tools, technologies and practices are essential. A shift needs to be made from reactive to proactive.
Aligning the network with broader IT management
Too often networks are not closely enough aligned with broader IT management strategies. This was perhaps acceptable in the days when the network wasn’t so essential to the functioning of all aspects of the business. When it merely served as a conduit through which data flowed from server to client and back, without having to provide access to software and applications, or cloud-based services. And in the days when there was no need for mobile application network management.
But things have changed. These days very little can function within a modern IT infrastructure without the services of the network. And since IT is a broad and increasingly complex entity, the total scope of IT management objectives goes way beyond simply focusing on keeping the network running and giving it an acceptable measure of resilience.
Therefore network management practices and the tools that enable them must align and connect with broader IT management systems, processes and initiatives.
Making the network cloud-ready
It goes without question that one of the most disruptive influences on networking in recent times is that of virtualisation and cloud services. The impact of these is significant and they bring new elements of complexity. New types of connectivity are needed, which need to be understood across the lifecycle of planning, deployment and operations.
With so much more of the IT infrastructure being delivered through the cloud – for instance, Software-as-a-Service – the networking takes on a far more complex and mission-critical role. Then there are the challenges of creating unified wired and wireless networks, which need to not only serve a variety of devices in many different ways, but also need to seamlessly integrated hybrid cloud environments (ones that combine a private cloud with a hosted cloud, for example). Data, applications and services need to be able to move quickly between the different cloud environments so that the promise of a single comprehensive, unified cloud platform can be delivered on. This makes it essential to build cloud-readiness into every aspect of the network, and to increasingly see the network as a cloud services carrier.
Stuart Hardy has been in the ICT industry since 1997, has been in the Telecommunications industry since 1997, intimately involved in product development, operations and product marketing roles. He has held Executive level positions in some of the largest Operators in South Africa and has founded and driven two successful start-up companies in the Mobile data and Wireless networking spaces. Today, Stuart is a Divisional Director for EOH in their Telecommunications sector.