It’s easy to overlook networking in a world of smart devices and tech that’s geared toward entertainment and style – but underpinning virtually everything we do is a complex series of networks – and there’s some interesting stuff happening there.
2017 saw some big developments that are hitting the mainstream this year – we’ll have a look at those, what they mean to your average business WAN and what more could be in the pipeline in the coming years…
SD WAN is an exciting step forward in networking tech – as it essentially separates a device’s control mechanism from the physical network device itself. In doing so, it enables enterprise level WANs to be managed centrally – rather than with a host of engineers on location.
It does this by creating an ‘overlay’, a virtual system that connects all network devices. Because SD WAN is ‘agnostic’ – i.e. can work with any and all networking languages, it allows a business network to access MPLS, broadband and cellular connections, bonding them and switching between them to maximise bandwidth.
Overlay tunnels are then created on top of current available network links, allowing MPLS, broadband or cellular connections to be connected in a way that potentially reduces dependency on any one transport method.
So ,what does it mean for business?
Well, hybrid networking becomes easier and simpler, you’ve got increased monitoring and visibility options, the ability to route traffic dynamically (without the large costs where this has been available prior to now) and the ability to deploy business locations much more easily.
While it’s probably not entirely accurate to say that SD WAN will replace any integral parts of your networking infrastructure immediately, it may well see a decreased need for some of the more costly elements (such as MPLS circuits). Tying SD WAN with forthcoming 5G cellular connectivity could see enterprise WAN becoming more mobile than ever before.
SD WAN also answers some of the problems that occur when you’re trying set premises up in overseas location – primarily those that relates to getting your kit to your location, then finding the right people to get it set up. Problems that are both significantly impacted when you can manage your devices remotely.
For a more in depth look at what SD WAN might offer you can click here.
The Cloud and SaaS
Networking talk around the cloud and SaaS (software as a service) is nothing new – but adoption rates in small to medium sized business continue to soar, surpassing what the industry expected to see during 2017.
Where buying software would previously have seen you purchase a licence for each device you were installing on, SaaS gives a subscription style alternative – as seen in the latest incarnation of Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Salesforce and many more widely used services.
While ‘security’ is the word that often flashes before people’s eyes when talking about business networking, the cloud and SaaS; 2017 saw a host of high-profile attacks on world-class organisations that could have almost certainly been avoided were they using cloud-based applications.
As individual organisation’s security continues to be tested, you can expect more and more people putting their trust in the seemingly impenetrable tech giants.
IaaS (infrastructure as a service)
The number of start-ups and fledgling businesses in the marketplace is greater than ever before – and for companies like this, optimising cash flow is almost always high on the financial priorities list.
An organisation’s networking infrastructure is one layer of their overall IT solution – and traditionally encompasses a hefty capital expenditure outlay – on everything from costly servers to a shopping basket full of networking accessories.
The short version? Setting up a SME network is a costly habit.
So, paying for your infrastructure in a subscription style obviously presents a massive financial benefit – and could in fact be the route a small business takes to accessing networking infrastructure that’s lightyears ahead of what a standard CAPEX budget would stretch too.
IaaS is also going to appeal to established businesses who are familiar with the painful CAPEX hit that’s taken when a network upgrade is required. IaaS doesn’t need upgrading – as everyone’s working with the latest version of the tech, so your on-going monthly cost also sees you futureproof at no additional charge.
Add in the hugely increased market agility that comes when you can double or triple the scale of your network and its capability with just a quick call – and IaaS begins to look like the kind of service that’s going to be powering the next wave of successful growing businesses across the world.
The first 5G chips are making their way on to the market – and while the personal benefits are plenty, there’s a host of business benefits to be had too…
5G tech significantly builds on existing 4G speeds, with initial indications suggesting we should expect to see a 300% speed increase, starting at around 450Mbps for single-stream services. That said, there are industry voices who predict speeds to be increased a lot more, some suggesting we could expect to see download speeds hundreds or even thousands of times quicker than our existing 4G LTE tech allows.
For networking the possibilities are huge – and it’s primarily down to one factor; throughput.
Throughput is the measure of just how much data a network can process in a set time. The greater your network throughput, the greater the amount of applications and processes it can manage.
It’s here that mobile connectivity has always seen some choking of what’s possible – and although there are ways of bonding 4G LTE SIMs together to create real possibilities of mobile networking, it involves specialist equipment.
5G will also present a huge range of IoT possibilities for networking too, especially when you consider the massive amount of information device mounted sensors could provide – and the huge amount of saved downtime that could be achieved if you knew a device was going to fail before the problem, occurred.
5G might not realistically be with us until around 2020, but it could be the tech that sees true enterprise level networking in the palm of our hands.