Today, IP-based devices are rapidly proliferating inside and outside the four walls of businesses—making networks increasingly difficult to scale, manage, secure and adapt.
It makes sense that this would happen eventually. The era of modern business networking began over twenty years ago, with the introduction of public packet-mode networks as an alternative to private leased line-based wide-area networks (WANs). By the end of the 90’s, Microsoft-powered PCs and LANs were pervasive across businesses—pushing out other proprietary networks. At the same time, the Internet was flourishing and TCP/IP became the dominant way to connect branch, campus and datacenter LANs together.
Without further ado, here are five major societal and technological trends changing the way businesses network:
1. Mobile Workstyles
Earlier this year, for the first time ever, the installed base of smartphones and tablets surpassed that of desktop and notebook PCs. As our lifestyles become increasingly connected, so do our workstyles. Business networks need to provide the ability to work when, where and on whatever device of choice.
2. Partly Cloudy Forecast
According to a recent Voice of IT report from the Spiceworks IT community, over 60% of SMBs are using cloud-based services. However, unless a company is building a new business from the ground up, they remain “partly cloudy” for a long time—using IT applications, storage, compute workloads, and operational systems with both on-premise and cloud-based deployments.
3. Shrinking Planet
Not so long ago, only large enterprises had the ability to conduct business on a global scale and to build and support the networks that enabled it. Today, even a small manufacturer can source parts from China and sell products in Europe. As the planet shrinks, the demand for global WAN connectivity will grow for businesses of all sizes.
4. Shifting Threatscape
Advances in cloud computing and open-source software are not just benefiting the righteous—nefarious groups are embracing these technologies to radically alter the volume, velocity, and virality of their cyber attacks on business assets. Over 70,000 new malware variants that defy traditional signature-based detection are created every day. With the newfound power and proficiency of the cloud, hackers are shifting their sights towards smaller businesses that lack the staff and sophistication to thwart them.
5. Crushing Complexity
The overall construct of IP networks has changed very little in the last decade; rather, a conga line of boxes have emerged at the WAN edge in an attempt to make networks more secure, mobile-oriented, application-intelligent and optimized.
These add-on boxes have made WANs more complex, expensive and inadaptable. They have also put enterprise-class networks outside the reach of most SMB organizations.
So what are you to make of all this? Times are a-changin’ and networking’s time has come. One only needs to look to the cloud to see what the future of networking has in store.
By Steve Campbell
Steve Campbell is a co-founder and former CEO of StrataCom, the frame relay pioneer that ushered in the era of modern, packet-mode networks. He is an investor and board director at Pertino, a Silicon Valley cloud networking startup.