We’ve all experienced how the cloud has revolutionised how we do business. By modernising IT through cloud applications, computing, and storage, organisations have benefited from enhanced collaboration, accelerated innovation, and improved cost-effectiveness across all departments.
The next frontier for cloud integration is networking. As the number of remote employees and Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices grows, conventional networks are becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Adding to this complexity is the frequently separate administration of wide area network (WAN), wired, and wireless networks, overseen by individual tools, which can lead to issues resulting in downtime and compromised user experiences. To break down silos and simplify the network management lifecycle, the time has come for a unified infrastructure that brings the management of all networks together into a single, cloud-native dashboard.
Savvy businesses may have already made this shift; however, others continue to lag and risk falling behind their competitors. There are five reasons your business should make the change sooner, rather than later:
1. Improve network agility to keep pace with digital innovation
Digital transformation continues to accelerate, with businesses aiming to gain a competitive edge by optimising supply chains, creating compelling experiences for customers and employees, and even switching to entirely new business models. Within this landscape, networks remain crucial in delivering applications, data, and digital experiences to users. Unfortunately, siloed, legacy, manually driven networks are holding businesses back. Implementing necessary network changes on a device-by-device basis is inefficient, time-consuming, and costly.
On the other hand, unified and cloud-managed networks make it far easier to deploy new services or even entirely new sites. Capabilities like zero touch provisioning let IT preconfigure devices such as switches, access points, and gateways. When these devices are brought onsite, they are simply turned on, connected, and they automatically receive their configurations and policies from the cloud. From there, network connectivity is up and running in mere minutes.
Similar efficiencies can be achieved during change windows. Using a cloud-based management dashboard, IT personnel can prepare configuration changes just once, instantly confirm that these changes adhere to network policies and are error-free, and then immediately distribute the updated settings to all relevant devices across the network. Cloud-powered processes like these significantly save on costs and time by minimising mistakes and rework, as well as reducing expenses and delays related to on-site IT visits.
2. Use AIOps to free up IT for strategic work
Manual network configuration isn’t the only time-consuming task occupying the IT team. Up to 60 per cent¹ of IT’s time is spent addressing network issues. Artificial intelligence optimisation (AIOps) helps identify problems before they escalate, using AI and machine learning (ML) to analyse metadata and provide insights and recommendations. Dynamic baselines automatically account for changing conditions, reducing false positives and resource drain. Real-time insights also let IT respond quickly to actual issues.
3. Monitor and improve the user experience from anywhere
Employees expect outstanding user experience when accessing applications and digital services via corporate networks. However, evaluating and enhancing application performance is challenging, as most IT monitoring tools don’t consider the actual end user experience. As a result, 33 per cent¹ of network or application issues are reported by end users, putting IT in a reactive position when handling business-impacting problems. This also assumes IT is onsite or has adequate remote access for troubleshooting. A unified infrastructure with a cloud-managed networking solution lets IT monitor user, device, and application performance from any location. Solutions offering client-side monitoring that simulate user behaviour deliver additional insights, helping IT assess and confirm the effects of network changes on applications and users attempting to connect.
4. Support hybrid work, minus the IT overhead
In a hybrid workplace, employees use various networks to access business applications, both under and beyond IT’s control. Cloud-managed networking ensures an office-like experience regardless of an employee’s location. These solutions can extend secure connectivity to employee homes through remote access points or virtual private network (VPN) services. Both options should be user-friendly, offer reliable access to applications and data, and maintain secure connections. IT also gains complete visibility and troubleshooting assistance via the cloud to tackle and resolve issues, reducing costs related to support tickets and minimising the impact of work disruptions.
5. Stronger security for BYOD and IoT
Unfortunately, security remains a concern when employees access corporate resources beyond the traditional IT perimeter. The reality is that this is happening every day, with key enterprise resources accessed through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms and devices connecting to networks from anywhere, at any time. Additionally, businesses are deploying more IoT devices in offices, increasing risk due to their inherent untrustworthiness and lack of visibility. Cloud-based networking helps IT extend security policies and approved network access levels to employees, whether they are onsite, travelling, or at home. Policy-based automation supersedes static concepts like virtual local area networks (VLANs) or access control lists (ACLs), and features like intrusion detection and prevention counter threats from SaaS applications. To address IoT visibility gaps, consider solutions offering AI-based device profiling, which continuously fingerprints all network devices. By monitoring device usage and behaviour, IT can enforce proper policies.
The Aruba Central difference
Cloud-based network management solutions are gaining traction as organisations seek to consolidate their tools, drive better efficiencies, and lower costs.
Aruba’s cloud-based network management solution, Aruba Central, is a powerful, scalable solution that offers a single point of visibility and control to oversee every aspect of wired and wireless local area networks (LANs), WANs, and VPNs across campus, branch, remote, and data centre locations. Aruba Central is also an integral part of the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, giving IT admins a single operating model for network, compute, and storage services across edges, data centres, and public clouds to improve efficiency and keep costs in check.
As an Aruba Gold Partner and a provider of best-in-class IT solutions, Blue Connections IT can work with you to re-frame your key goals and challenges, conduct a review of your existing network infrastructure, and make recommendations for optimising your foundations to enable ongoing innovation, security, and control.
If you are interested in modernising your network and evolving your network management strategies, connect with Blue Connections IT today.
Chief Technology Officer, Blue Connections IT