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Managing your network in the age of complexity

Until recently, the chief culprit in unplanned network downtime was power failure. These days, however, network errors and IT system problems play the main villains — and network errors were identified as the primary cause for 32% of outages in 2018.

That number becomes even more alarming when you consider that just a year earlier network errors accounted for only 19% of outages.

So why was there a 68% jump between 2017 and 2018 in the rate that network errors triggered unplanned downtime?

It’s the interconnectedness

Because of complexity, of course.

Yet I think it’s worth remembering the reasons behind such complexity: our devices, systems, applications, services, and networks are vastly more interconnected than ever before.

How many sites does your network link? For many, it’s not just one or two — it’s three or four or more. And the multiple locations where your data resides may be subject to (unrecognized) critical network dependencies easily perturbed in such deeply interconnected environments.

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The network ante is going up

What’s more, several new technologies with profoundly important competitive implications are now being deployed. If you’re not up to your elbows already, soon you’ll be coping with:

    • 5G, which will power edge computing with order-of-magnitude greater speed, lower latency, and the ability to connect massive numbers of sensors and smart devices.


    • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) that will support a higher density of connected devices and deliver improvements in speed and latency.


    • Internet of Things (IoT)opportunities greatly expanded by 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and a new band of uncrowded spectrum, Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).


    • Software-defined networking (SDN), which is already automating network configuration/management and centralizing the visibility of network topology to boost network flexibility, agility, scalability, and reliability.


    • Intent-based networking that tightly couples SDN policy with business intent by including context, learning, and assurance capabilities.


    • Cloud-native functions able to encapsulate networking concepts inside cloud native technology approaches (containers and Kubernetes).


  • AI/machine learning that will be used to optimize network performance via pattern recognition analyses and improve security via anomaly detection and alert management.

Ignoring these technologies and their transformative implications puts your enterprise in peril. But it’s also risky to leap in too fast without careful assessment of where your organization’s network infrastructure is now and where it needs to go over the next few years in order to stay competitive.

In my next post, I’ll lay out the strategic steps toward putting key networking technologies to work delivering major improvements in network security as well as order-of-magnitude boosts in your network flexibility, efficiency, and speed.

Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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