Enterprise Networks: Things To Focus On In 2018

by Sohini Bagchi    Dec 13, 2017


In the age of increased connectivity and with more and more businesses looking for digital transformation, the role of network becomes very critical. Trends such as mobile workforces, the rise of the internet of things, and the proliferation of cloud applications further demand that companies ramp up their networking infrastructure to keep up with the change. Brendan O’Flaherty, CEO of cPacket Networks, a maker of a distributed intelligence platform for networks, observed a number of key trends in enterprise networking in the coming months.

According to him, as network speeds increase, those charged with network management will face an inconvenient truth:  that problems inflicting the network multiply at higher speeds.  “If you can analyze only a percentage of the traffic on a 10Gbps network, you’ll be able to analyze an even smaller percentage of the traffic on a 100Gbps network.  At that speed, the source of the problem will have “more places to hide,” making sampled approaches more susceptible to false positives and false negatives,” said O’Flaherty.

“When you start a packet capture and analysis after the problem occurs, in most cases the packets captured may not be associated with the problem and therefore a root cause analysis is nearly impossible. The right solution is a continuous network monitoring system which will keep a track of all network activities with no impact on storage and the network,” he explained.

This has been predicted by Cisco Systems, that predicts that global data center Internet protocol (IP) traffic will grow by 31 percent annually within the next five year. At the same time, 100G port shipments are expected to increase dramatically (in 2013, port shipments (per units) for 10G networks and below was approximately 200,000. By 2022, 100G and above will comprise approximately 1,000,000 port shipments (per units) while 10G networks and below will remain if not decrease from 200,000. (Source Dell’Oro: JP Morgan ).

Talking about the trends in big data, O’Flaherty said, ”As companies see quantum leap increases in the data transported across their networks, one theory says that any larger dataset will provide more actionable insights than a smaller dataset.  But practitioners are beginning to acknowledge the limitations of big data: first, that more data doesn’t equate to extracting meaningful data, and second, that it may become too computationally expensive to find the data that can yield insights.

“Big data generates value from storage and processing of very large quantities of digital information, but the challenge remains that this information cannot be accurately analyzed with traditional computing techniques/architecture,” he said, adding that the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that data volume is growing at 40% per year, and will grow 44× between 2009 and 2020.

Similarly, a survey conducted by Capgemini Consulting in November 2015, only 35% of 226 IT professionals said they are far from being able to use their big data effectively. That’s because they lacked the proper networking tools to efficiently capture, validate, and accurately analyze the data.

However, as organizations are focused on adding bandwidth, investigating ways to modernize their networks with software, and expanding their wireless networking capabilities, their key concern is that of network security.

“When a large corporate network goes down, the first notion is to suspect a security breach.  But the source could just as likely be a difficult-to-detect spike or microburst or a misconfiguration.  The problem is that the jobs of network performance monitoring and security monitoring are separate and siloed.  But, in an outage, when you silo these teams, the end result can be finger-pointing, and network problems with massive consequences go undetected or take longer to isolate,” said O’Flaherty, suggesting that companies will begin to acknowledge that networking and security personnel work better as a team, just as development and operations personnel did in creating the DevOps movement.

According to him, malicious actors are becoming savvier at detecting “security gaps” between teams in organizations. The challenge remains that SecOps and NetOps are often tasks with different objectives and often don’t communicate as a result of a siloed corporate structure.

“Companies with gain if both teams are working together,” said O’Flaherty. “A tightly coordinated security team can yield budget savings and time. For example, investing in tools and sharing security data between these teams will eliminate the need to purchase additional (and sometimes unnecessary) preventative mechanisms,” he signed off.