In today’s networking climate, companies face several challenges. These include, but are not limited to, the increasing unpredictability of consumer demands, network management issues, network security concerns, and the difficulty of maintaining end-to-end visibility.
These challenges impact the service delivery, growth and competitiveness of businesses. However, by being aware of these challenges, their causes and the right approaches to addressing them, organizations can stay on track to achieve their goals.
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Enterprise Network Challenges
1) Consumer layers
Today, the constant fluctuations in consumer demand are consistently unpredictable – putting a heavy strain on business networks. These consumer demands shape the end-to-end services a company offers, dictating how they deliver effective product offerings and driving them to optimize their direct-to-consumer channels.
As the world recovers from a global pandemic, businesses must keep pace with changing consumer demand exacerbated by the pandemic.
The lack of an effective network response can be costly for businesses due to product and service shortages and reduced productivity. It can also result in an inability for businesses to scale.
2) Product hype
The product hype around new network devices is also a potential challenge for the corporate network.
This happens when companies’ eagerness to implement new enterprise networking products, such as New technologies and digital transformation initiatives, for example, leads them to make the purchase without knowing if this is the case Vendors are in true alignment with their goals. They therefore expose themselves to the risk of unforeseen challenges from products that may never meet their expectations.
3) remote work
Greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has changed the face of corporate networks. From instructing employees to work from home in 2020 to introducing flexible workplace policies later, hybrid working models are here to stay.
Networking teams customized the initial remote work layer by adjusting data center bandwidth, implementing VPN policies, and distributing work equipment, among other things. However, it is up to these teams to implement long-term solutions to ensure that the remote end-user experience at least guarantees service availability, maximum efficiency, and remote end-user security. They therefore face a greater workload.
Additionally, organizations face the challenge of managing multi-cloud environments and ensuring they have complete visibility into their network environments. This challenge is compounded by the insufficient resources and lack of expertise that plague cloud networks and enterprises in general.
These talent gaps – where some companies strive to maintain a minimal headcount – result in companies being understaffed in the development and operations of cloud networks and network security.
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4) Increased traffic
As annual global IP traffic continues to increase, the amount of business data transmitted across enterprise networks continues to boom. This results in data-intensive applications that require massive amounts of network traffic. The result is an increased demand for more bandwidth, which puts a strain on the existing network infrastructure. Ever-increasing data traffic is proving particularly overwhelming for organizations without a clear framework for how data is organized, managed, and stored.
To escape the challenges exacerbated by booming data traffic, companies can set policies to improve their data management. You can start by reviewing all of your existing data systems to better understand data processes and flows. Businesses should also assess their infrastructure and determine if upgrades are needed.
Organizations can also invest in network traffic analysis and monitoring software and services to ensure they are not becoming overwhelmed and ineffective with their network management. These tools and techniques have benefits such as identifying bottlenecks, fixing bandwidth issues, improving visibility, and detecting and fixing security issues.
5) Greater network complexity
Network architectures are becoming more distributed and complex. The time and manpower required to manage and secure these network infrastructures has increased. Disparate and isolated network solutions are on the rise.
As a result, the cost of offering reliable network bandwidth has increased. Organizations struggle to oversee the installation, maintenance, and upgrading of their network infrastructure to meet security, bandwidth, and speed requirements. This is affecting the ability of organizations to scale their networks as they struggle to meet their network capacity needs to support growth.
5G promises higher speed, lower latency and higher reliability. However, the move to 5G means greater network complexity, accompanied by user expectations for a higher quality experience. Separation of control level and user levelare driving up network complexity alongside 5G’s self-contained cloud-native network capabilities and service-based architectures. This can prove overwhelming for service providers, and the impact can spill over to businesses.
Businesses can work with Managed Network Service Providers (MNSPs) to leverage the resources and expertise they use to address their network management, issues and constraints. You can also look for solutions that combine automation and visibility to allow greater control over the network. Implementing SD-WAN solutions promises to reduce not only network complexity but also total cost of ownership.
6) Increasing cybersecurity concerns
Increased network complexity can enlarge, expose, or open network security vulnerabilities. Security teams are expected, in many cases, to monitor and manage events across a vast and disconnected ecosystem. These networks offer a larger attack surface as they provide more points of interaction and entry for threat actors. In addition, cyber criminals use more sophisticated tools to improve the effectiveness of their attacks.
The challenge of securing the network perimeter has had a major impact on enterprise cybersecurity. However, networks in larger enterprises today can represent their perimeters through IaaS, PaaS, SaaS solutions, IoT and mobile devices, as well as cloud-based and on-premise solutions, reflecting the trend away from the traditional network perimeter. Such an undefined perimeter can prove quite difficult to secure. Additionally, the controller in SDN is central to maintaining a secure network. Because it’s centralized, it proves to be a single point of failure.
Enterprises can also implement unified security solutions to optimize visibility and detect and prevent attacks on their networks. You can also consider SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) solutions to ease network security for a distributed workforce. Finally, the potential vulnerability of the SDN controller can be mitigated by implementing controller redundancy in the network with automatic failover.
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7) End-to-end network visibility
Achieving true and continuous end-to-end network visibility remains a challenge for the high-performance, cost-effective, and secure infrastructure that enterprises seek. Ensuring service monitoring has become more complicated, while business operations depend even more on the availability of high-performance applications. Because many monitoring solutions are fragmented, they introduce different data sources and different levels of granularity.
In addition, desired network visibility is hampered by business applications evolving from monolithic to microservices architectures. Microservices use simple APIs to communicate across networks. This adds more traffic to the network. Complexity is increased with the ease of booting up virtual machines and applications running in temporary containers.
To take a step toward end-to-end visibility, organizations must base visibility on network traffic data. Wire data should be your true source of truth. Using wire data for end-to-end visibility enables unhindered visibility into dependencies spanning networks, servers, applications, databases, and service enablers. Such data can be used to evaluate refactoring and improve networks and applications.
The future of challenges for the network
The increase in network complexity is central to most of the above challenges, underscoring the increasing responsibilities of network teams. Above all, enterprise security will prove to be a dominating challenge given the rapid evolution of technology and business landscapes as well as major advances in various industries.
For example, the introduction of 5G will result in more data being connected in the cloud, including sensitive company data. Additionally, SD-WAN architectures and SASE platforms will continue to grow in popularity through their software-defined security benefits as a distributed workforce becomes more important.