20 years ago, if you had asked someone in a senior leadership position what their key priorities were, the network would definitely not have featured in their list.
For many, the network has traditionally been technologically necessary but strategically unimportant. Organisational processes were built on the flow of paper, of both the monetary and the mundane kinds, and connecting computers together over networks were just starting to become the norm, providing ways of replacing the old paper shuffling with an electronic version of the same thing. The outcome of this new digital age ushered in two monumental changes to the way we live and work:
- A new way of connecting.
- A desire for freedom of information.
New digital operating methods developed for every organisational department from marketing to logistics, customer support to technical support. The digital transformation of the workplace was mirrored in the customer experience also and today the buyer journey in both the high street and the boardroom is a digital one. The result of digital disruption for the network has really become the lifeblood of every single company. It connects businesses to their customers, suppliers, to employees; enabling the whole organisation to operate efficiently and ultimately generate revenue.
As a result, modern networks – especially in large enterprises – are complex. Thousands of connected network devices enable the flow of data across the organisation to meet the ever-increasing demand for IT services, and this complexity means networks are increasingly difficult to visualise and understand, especially for the teams who are charged with managing and maintain them. But what are the main challenges that infrastructure teams face when confronted with these demands?
- Clear Visibility – The ability to accurately map and visualise the complete infrastructure.
- Optimal Performance – Answer yes to one question; does the infrastructure perform as intended?
- Effective incident Response – The capability to trace changes and reduce the impact when incidents occur.
As network management teams struggle to meet these challenges and effectively maintain services to the businesses, the pressure to add new services with the introduction of Cloud and SD-WAN has added even more complexity. The original hype around Cloud was about cost and convenience, with pay-by-the-minute for use of compute and storage resources that you did not have to maintain and operate. What that led to was operational shifts like DevOps because now applications could be built in a “just in time” manner, allowing the flexibility to scale up and down, change rapidly, and being upgraded while online because they did not need to wait for infrastructure to be provisioned – effectively turning applications into consumable services.
Agile environments do not fit with archaic ITIL-style processes, so cloud adoption has led to organisational and process shifts, in turn leading to increased automation of infrastructure. Automation and orchestration of networks allow us to build processes and workflows that deploy templated services across multiple network and security domains, hiding the complexity from the users. While organisations are clearly seeing benefits from using cloud services, it is becoming increasingly obvious that they are not likely to completely replace the on-prem or co-lo private data centre completely. This is due in part to three main barriers to total cloud adoption:
- Security Concerns
- Data Privacy
- Cost of maintaining legacy applications
As a result, public cloud infrastructure is likely to need to coexist in most organisations with at least some private cloud or DC provision: this flexibility, in turn, increases the complexity of the networking provision. The real challenge to supporting this hybrid cloud approach is to get the full visibility of the interactions between all elements of the network that provides those services.
IP Fabric understands how networks are constructed and behave, so when it creates a snapshot of the network it builds a model of its topology and its behaviour, regardless of whether the environment is predominately a legacy CLI-based network, SDN, Cloud or a hybrid of all or some. This means that we can simply provide deep, rich, meaningful data about the whole network and its operation to anyone who asks for it. This could be simple visual topology diagrams or tables of data accessible through an interactive web UI. It might be end-to-end path simulation, or intent verification checks, ensure the network is complying with standards or regulations. Or it could be using IP Fabric as a reference data source for other systems in your ecosystem over a REST API.
The beauty of the model and our discovery approach is that operational users do not need to do any of their own discovery and analysis or make any assumptions along the way. IP Fabric saves them time, effort, and resource in ensuring end-to-end visibility, validating compliance, and building meaningful automation workflows. As the technology and organisational demands shift, IP Fabric will be the one tool in the ecosystem that will know provide true visibility across a complete infrastructure and that is priceless.
If you would like to find out more about IP Fabric and how it can help improve your existing infrastructure by detecting issues you are not aware of, please contact us through www.ipfabric.io! You can also follow our company’s LinkedIn or Blog, where more content will be emerging