Technologies transforming network performance Posted on March 22, 2018 by Tim Burke In my last post, I described four challenges to network performance that your enterprise needs to overcome network complexity, achieve network visibility, and stay competitive — growth in data traffic and data speed, the arrival of 5G, intensifying network complexity, and heightened risk of security breaches. So let’s look at some the key technologies that address these challenges, often by working in concert: SD-WANs and NFV Cost savings from improved efficiency and better connectivity have made software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) so popular that it’s expected to grow by 69% through 2021. SD-WAN’s centralized network view addresses the need for on-demand bandwidth and consistent network performance across multiple sites. SD-WAN is complemented by network functions virtualization (NFV), which optimizes network services via an alternative way to design, deploy, and manage them. Hyperconverged platforms Typically running on commodity hardware, hyperconverged platforms include a hypervisor for virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking. The payoff is a simpler, more flexible infrastructure of multiple nodes that can be clustered into pools of shared compute and storage resources, to be expanded as needed. Real-time analytics To understand network performance trends, mitigate risk, and prevent service interruptions before they happen, you need network visibility, which requires both the right data and an ability to effectively analyze in it in real time. Network-focused real-time analytics can spot bandwidth problems, map application dependencies, monitor application performance, detect unauthorized WAN traffic, identify transport performance bottlenecks, and eliminate blind spots created from increased data traffic. Intent-based networking By using a graphical user interface to abstract the arcane command-line interface (CLI) coding and complex scripts that still force 75% of organizations to manually manage network infrastructure, intent-based networking (IBN) allows engineers to determine what functions they want to occur on the network without having to program each device individually. AI meets NPM The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into network performance management (NPM) services and solutions is underway, with AI capabilities helping to track networks and other infrastructure through smart monitoring capabilities, allocating resource usage, optimizing storage, and generating log data for security solutions. Network monitoring switches By optimizing packets for security devices that monitor cloud environments (including hybrid) where more traditional perimeter protections fall short, network monitoring switches aid (but do not replace) the many sorts of security services and devices important in protecting networks. This helps optimize the visibility and management of data traffic from multiple network links as well as power the flow analysis and packet analysis so critical to maintaining network security. Endpoint detection and response In a world without network perimeters, endpoints need to be secured to keep them from harming network performance. Increasingly, this is accomplished via endpoint detection and response (EDR) services and solutions able to detect suspicious activities and capture forensic data. In my next post, I’ll examine several key best practices that can help you improve your network’s performance.