May 06, 2014

Optimizing network performance in line with business practices

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In a previous blog, I underlined the need for corporate network managers to adopt strategic long-term approaches towards optimizing their networks’ management functions and resource utilization while maximizing security and performance.

I highlighted the benefits that accrue, often from new and innovative types of network deployments, when the power to convert knowledge into competitive advantage is harnessed via leading-edge analytics solutions.

Now, I would like to explore the benefits that ensue – and the opportunities for business development and profit that will present themselves – when business practices and network performance are concurrently examined, analyzed and optimized.

Let’s start with the business aspect. Business analytics is defined as the practice of iterative, methodical exploration of an organization’s data with emphasis on statistical analysis. The concept is fundamental to organizations committed to data-driven decision making.

Business analytics is employed to gain insights into day-to-day issues that influence business decisions and can be used to automate, optimize and improve business processes. For these organizations, data is recognized as a valuable corporate asset, able to be manipulated and leveraged for competitive marketplace advantage.

Successful business analytics depends as much on data quality as it does on the skill of the analyst who must use to the results to – for example – find new patterns and relationships, explain why certain conclusions are reached, or forecast trends and future outcomes. Data acquisition often involves information extraction from one or more business system sources.

If proficient analytics is the lifeblood of an innovative, progressive business organism, then it should also be seen as a critical component of its nervous system – the corporate network.

Network availability is one of the most important keys to maintaining business productivity and continuity. The maintenance of network uptime is a function of the network’s health and wellbeing.

There are a number of security and management challenges facing network managers today. For example, the spread of private PCs, iPhones, iPads and other ‘smart’ devices throughout the corporate world is increasing exponentially as the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon sweeps the globe. Questions about the effectiveness of the current management tools employed to oversee BYODs and ensure network security are increasingly being asked.

One of the answers lies in increasing the levels of intelligence surrounding the corporate network infrastructure to the point where it is able to quickly and easily determine which end-users and what devices are on the network – and whether they are in compliance with established policies.

Today, network managers must have enterprise-wide visibility into the current status of all network devices and the end-points and end-users. And they should have a common management view of relevant information and events in context.

Providing the data needed to realize these objectives is not an easy task, as many network managers will testify. It entails optimizing the network for each and every application as well as enhancing security for these applications.

Until now, the tools needed to effectively capture network data and content at this refined level of granularity, and then analyze, correlate and report on it, have not existed.

Today, a new ground-breaking software release with this capability has appeared in the form of Purview from Extreme Networks. It is capable of providing visibility into, and control of, applications and websites (including related sub-web sites) resident in all parts of the network, from the wired or wireless edge all the way through the core to the data center. It is able to examine application traffic from the enterprise to the private cloud, public cloud or any service on the internet.

It has the potential to effectively transform the corporate network into a strategic business asset, providing support for tactical decision making in response to future, often unforeseen events and adding value to other lines of business.

Moreover, it enables businesses to innovate around the network infrastructure while presenting opportunities for further development, expansion and, ultimately, increased profitability.

When business practices and network performance are simultaneously optimized, a deep level of insight is provided to support organizations in a number of ways. For instance, the deployment of predictive models and the use of their findings to back real-time decisions will help bridge the gaps between applications and business processes. It will also foster greater collaboration between those responsible for network management, security and business intelligence.

The result will be a marked improvement in the experience of connected users and an enhanced understanding of user engagement on the part of the organization’s executive team.

From an infrastructure management standpoint, application performance will be optimized and protection against malicious or unapproved system use will be enhanced.

About The Contributor:
Martin MayRegional Director, Africa

Martin came to South Africa in 1992, relocated by Cabletron Systems to begin operations in Africa. May has driven Extreme Networks forward in Africa and is a leading advisor in the areas of infrastructure security utilizing technologies such as NAC, IDS/IPS and network-based security.

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