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Digital Transformation at the Enterprise Network Edge

A head shot of Brandon Butler, a Senior Research Analyst of Enterprise Networks at IDC and a Huawei Enterprise Blog author.

Brandon Butler

2022-05-11 6
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Organizations around the world are in a race to digitally transform. Recent years have proven the need for business operations to be agile in the face of uncertain external conditions. A top priority of any organization's Digital Transformation (DX) initiative is to enhance the experiences of users and customers while improving their own financial performance. To do so, organizations are looking to improve their decision-making by relying on real-time data to optimize digital operations.

One of the most important keys to a successful digital transformation journey is network transformation. Connectivity is a foundational pillar that enables the secure, scalable, and efficient use of third platform technologies such as mobile, the cloud, and big data. The network is the linchpin that connects users and devices to the applications they're accessing. The network is also a conduit for the fast and secure transfer of business-enabling real-time data. These factors are leading organizations across the globe to transform their networks as part of their broader DX journey.

Enterprise Edge Network Transformation Priorities

The edge of the enterprise network is a critically important point, given that this is where users, devices, and things connect to it. Of course, this enterprise network edge can be found in different kinds of campuses, branches, and public venues, from airports and stadiums to university campuses, hospitals, and retail locations. The network edge is also where data is created and consumed. And it is, for many organizations, a key area of network transformation. When it comes to transforming this enterprise network edge, then, there are a handful of key priorities that are generally focused on.

Next Generation Infrastructure

• Embracing wireless-first deployments.

• Flexible branch to headquarters connections, driven by Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology.

• Highly integrated hardware and software systems across networking domains.

Advanced Management

• Accessing detailed network-based visibility and analytics.

• Using Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance automation.

• Relying on cloud-based platforms to manage networks at scale.

Enterprise Edge Network Transformations: Next Generation Infrastructure Powering Digital Experiences

Organizations around the globe are rapidly adopting new enterprise networking technologies to meet the needs of their digital transformation goals. One of the most important trends is prioritizing wireless-first plans when organizations build out their enterprise Local Area Network (LAN). Wireless networking, such as Wi-Fi, has a number of advantages for both Information Technology (IT) teams and end users. It reduces the amount of wiring, allows IT teams to use advanced management tools, leads to easier onboarding and ongoing management, and ensures high-quality levels of performance and security.

Within wireless networking, one of the fastest-growing segments of the market is the Wi-Fi 6 market. The 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) standard enables significant advancements over previous Wi-Fi standards and is quickly growing to become the dominant standard deployed within the enterprise segment of the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) market. Benefits of Wi-Fi 6 include more efficient use of radio frequency space, especially in dense environments, as well as improvements for both downlink and uplink traffic. Recent enhances to Wi-Fi 6 Extended (Wi-Fi 6E) also enable Wi-Fi to extend into the 6 GHz band, opening up a vast new amount of clean spectrum for Wi-Fi to use.

Extending the Enterprise Network Edge with SD-WAN

The edge of the enterprise network is also in a dynamic state of transition, with boundaries that are rapidly changing. In recent years, organizations around the globe have been forced to support a significant increase in the number of workers accessing enterprise applications from home or other remote locations. So the management of enterprise networks must extend beyond the traditional walls of the carpeted office to remote workers, too.

The enterprise network doesn’t just need to extend to remote workers, though. Enterprises across the globe are increasingly looking for management platforms that can span multiple domains within their network: common management platforms across the LAN and Wide Area Network (WAN), for example, or integrations across the LAN and Data Center Network (DCN), which are both becoming increasingly common.

The goal of enhancing the network to support remote workers or to span across multiple domains of the network is to ensure high-quality user and application experiences, no matter where the enterprise network needs to extend to. To manage this complexity, organizations need to rely on powerful infrastructure components and advanced management capabilities that can meet the demands of such a dynamic environment.

Ensuring the highest-quality user and application experience is another key priority. One way to do this is to embrace highly integrated systems across network infrastructure hardware and software. Custom-developed hardware components that are able to harness the power of integrated software management systems ensure that organizations are getting the most performance out of their next generation network infrastructure.

The Power of AI in Advanced Management

Sitting atop next generation infrastructure, lie the management platforms that organizations use to control enterprise network policies. Within this domain there are a variety of important advancements too. One priority for organizations is to rely on network automation rather than manual management. Indeed, given the scale of modern network operations, automation is key. Having detailed levels of visibility and analytics is foundational for enabling advanced automation.

Modern network infrastructure systems have an ability to understand both high-level, system-wide analytics of network deployment, as well as granular details, down to the per component or per packet level of detail. Combined, these high-level and fine-grained detailed views of network performance and analytics are foundational for assuring high-quality user and application experiences, as well as enabling advanced automation and security. For example, modern AI-enhanced platforms can adjust the signal strength, radio channels, and throughput of Wi-Fi 6 Access Points (APs) when groups of users move within a location, guaranteeing service experiences for video conferences or remote desktop sharing, enabling a wireless-first environment.

Armed with vast troves of data, advanced network management platforms have an opportunity to apply ML and AI algorithms. Layering in these capabilities allows IT organizations to rely on a management plane to monitor the environment for anomalous behavior, which can be indicative of a performance or security incident. When a network performance issue is recognized by ML and AI, the system can automatically analyze the root cause of the issue and remediate the problem before it impacts users or applications. The combination of advanced analytics, coupled with ML and AI technology provides a powerful toolset for enterprises to assure high-quality enterprise network performance.

The Network's Critical Role in DX

Organizations are continuing to evolve their operations rapidly to keep pace with competitors and satisfy their customers and users. But with more users, devices, and things on the network than ever before, the complexity of managing the enterprise network continues to increase. Meanwhile, users and devices are more commonly accessing higher-bandwidth applications such as video traffic in everyday use cases. Nonetheless, there is an expectation for low-latency connections. The network must be up to the task of meeting the demands of a digital-first business. Transforming the network to ensure it relies on the latest networking technology — including powerful infrastructure components and advanced management tools — will ensure that the network is an enabler, rather than an inhibitor of organizational digital transformation goals.

Message from Huawei

Huawei has evolved its award-winning CloudCampus Solution to a new version: 3.0. This newly upgraded solution builds on Autonomous Driving Network (ADN) architecture and draws on the latest technologies, such as Wi-Fi 6, SD-WAN, Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6), cloud computing, and big data analytics. With this solution, organizations of all shapes and sizes can build campus networks featuring fully wireless access, one global network, cloud management, and intelligent Operations and Maintenance (O&M): a great choice for the digital transformation of diverse industries. Huawei's CloudCampus 3.0 Solution has already been widely acclaimed in a range of diverse transformation projects, including the Ministry of Education in the UAE, eThekwini Municipality in South Africa, Government Savings Bank (GSB) in Thailand, Viria in Finland, and Southeast University in China.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position, products, and technologies of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. If you need to learn more about the products and technologies of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., please visit our website at e.huawei.com or contact us.

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