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Cloud Compute, Network Services, UCaaS
This article was originally published by ATI partner Comcast on Comcast Business Community. 

The rate at which technology is evolving is increasing almost exponentially. In the business sector, hardware has given way to software-defined everything, while many on-premises technologies are now offered as a service. Much of the advances in technology over the last few years have been the direct result of the growing ubiquity of the cloud and faster connectivity speeds, both of which have enabled companies to adopt digital transformation technologies to help them work smarter and more efficiently.

In 2019, these forces will continue to impact enterprises across industries, as more organizations make the cloud and web-based applications an important part of their technology toolkits. Digital transformation efforts many companies began over the last few years will be the base for a new wave of solutions and services designed to grow their businesses even further and faster to outpace increasing competition.

As such, speed and intelligence will be the hallmarks of technologies demonstrating the highest value in 2019. From SD-WAN to edge computing and high-speed broadband to intelligent apps, technologies that enable networks to work at optimal levels will be in high demand, as companies strive to stay ahead of competition. In addition, technologies that promote collaboration across locations, such as unified communication services, will remain important to organizations of all sizes, regardless of industry sector.

SD-WAN: Finding Its Place as an Enabler

Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is experiencing a popularity surge, as a growing number of networking vendors look to add SD-WAN technologies to their lineups. IDC predicts the SD-WAN market globally will reach $4.5 billion by 2022, an impressive 40.4 percent compound annual growth rate from 2017.1

The benefits of SD-WAN are many, including cost savings, performance and availability enhancements and simplified administration and management. SD-WAN enables a level of agility traditional WANs are not capable of, and can manage the high volume data used by video and other types of multimedia—which is becoming more important in many companies’ marketing and social strategies—as well as other transactional data used by enterprise organizations.

Although SD-WAN has been around for a few years, its importance in digital transformation efforts haven’t been fully recognized until more recently. As more companies adopt cloud-based technologies and understand the importance of the network in advancing their business, SD-WAN is increasingly being hailed as an enabling technology.

That said, its original intent—as a replacement to costly MPLS connections—has since morphed into SD-WAN as a complementary technology: A number of organizations are using SD-WAN in addition to their MPLS networks, choosing to run their high-performance, mission-critical operations over MPLS and using SD-WAN for lower priority, internet-based traffic, such as their cloud-based as-a-service offerings—Office 365 or Adobe Cloud.2

Edge Computing: Democratizing Compute from the Data Center

SD-WAN is also enabling the concept of edge computing, which distributes computation away from the data center to devices at the edge of a network known as smart devices or edge devices. This distributed computing environment enables companies to analyze data in near real-time, better positioning them to make better decisions faster. Industries that depend on data to help decision-making, such as finance and health care, are adopting edge computing as a way to increase the accuracy of decisions and/or stay ahead of competition.

The growing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is one of the many factors spurring greater interest in edge computing. Research firm Stratistics MRC expects the global edge computing market will reach $20.5 billion by 2026, from $8 billion 2017.3 Other technologies including intelligent applications and intelligent wearable devices also are promoting edge computing as a must-have technology as companies extend their digital transformation strategies.

By taking some of the data processing away from the data center, edge computing offers the benefit of reduced latency, as data doesn’t have to traverse the network to be processed. That means not only faster insights, but also less data moving across the network at any given time.

Broadband Networks: Table Stakes in the Connectivity Game

The proliferation of broadband networks is rising, as companies recognize the benefits of high-speed connectivity as a catalyst for digital transformation. Gig-speeds in particular are alluring, offering the ability for super-fast uploads and downloads for streaming videos and other bandwidth-intensive applications, collaboration among employees in different locations and a more secure network through static IP addresses.

According to industry association USTelecom, Internet Protocol (IP) traffic in the United States is estimated at 48,272 petabytes per month in 2018 and is expected to rise to 79,640 petabytes by 2021.4 Traditional data pipes aren’t robust enough to handle such high traffic loads; for companies that rely on data to make intelligent, informed business decisions, broadband is becoming a must in ensuring data flows quickly, without lag or degradation.

Intelligent Apps: Making Real-Time Decision-Making Truly Real-Time

The need for data to be able to respond to market conditions in real time—whether it’s reacting to stock market activity by financial services organizations or switching to different machines on the production floor in anticipation of unplanned downtime in manufacturing—is driving a new breed of “intelligent apps” that utilize cloud computing and machine learning to respond and react accordingly.

The use of intelligent applications is still nascent, although the technology has the potential to be useful in a number of industries. In financial services, beyond reacting to stock market activity, intelligent apps could be used to predict or detect fraud. In a healthcare setting, providers could use intelligent apps to detect and track possible outbreaks of illness or disease—and get ahead of an outbreak before it becomes a full-blown epidemic. In retail, intelligent apps could be used to better predict inventory based on real-time shopping trends and external factors such as weather forecasts or logistics issues such as driver strikes, for example.

Unified Communications: Keeping Productivity High Through Collaboration

Unified communications, like SD-WAN, are not new technologies. But advances in networking, cloud and UC solutions themselves are renewing enthusiasm among organizations looking to ensure employees can communicate and collaborate effectively anytime and from anywhere. Mobile collaboration apps, for example, are bringing streamlined access to users, providing connectivity no matter what device they’re using—desktop, smartphone or tablet—and offering many of the same services across all platforms, such as videoconferencing, document sharing, chat and email, to name a few.

In addition, the cloud has had a major impact on unified communications, separating UC from proprietary PBX systems to make it easier for employees to utilize the benefits of unified communications without being tethered to their desks. And the high-speeds of broadband networks ensure communication is seamless without dropped calls or call degradation that can negatively impact the user experience.

Companies continue to see the value of unified communications as a driver for productivity: According to research firm Gartner, the unified communications-as-a-service market in North America in 2017 totaled almost $1.5 billion and is expected to reach about $2.8 billion by 2021.5

Taking Advantage of Tech Trends in 2019

The technology landscape in 2019 is rife with solutions designed to help organizations work faster and smarter than ever before. However, new-generation technologies can’t be sustained on legacy networks and IT architecture. To reap the benefits of these technologies, companies need sufficient bandwidth as well as smart, software-defined architecture to enable more capacity, flexibility and control of business applications running across an enterprise—from headquarters to the edges at the branch level—to enable better operations, improved and new customer and employee experiences.

As organizations strive to become ever more digitally focused, they need an environment that supports digital transformation from every point on the network. Hybrid cloud and network environments, SD-WAN and high-speed broadband are just some of the technologies that can enable companies to better manage their business applications across all locations, while networking components such as WiFi and unified communications ensure employees can work anytime, anywhere, with no impact on productivity.

What’s more, managed services can help organizations as they adopt new technologies without overly stressing their current network and to help streamline processes for IT managers, by tying disparate systems together and “filling in the gaps” as companies update current infrastructure and after networks have been upgraded.

Working with a network service provider can help IT leaders in their quest to adopt digital transformation technologies and embrace new services. By working with a network services provider, organizations can leverage virtual and physical private Ethernet connectivity to assure there are no issues regarding network performance and availability for critical applications at all company locations. They also can receive all or some of their most critical connectivity functions as a managed service, including managed connectivity, WiFi, security, voice and business continuity, among others.

Conclusion

Many of the forces that spurred the first wave of digital transformation are still very much in play in 2019; as such, speed and intelligence will be the hallmarks of technologies demonstrating the highest value in the next year. The digital transformation efforts many companies began over the last few years will be the base for a new wave of solutions and services designed to grow their businesses even further and faster to outpace their increasingly agile competitors.
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Network Services

Article by ATI Partner Shashi Kiran, Chief Marketing Officer – Aryaka Networks

You Have a Multi-Cloud Environment – Now What?

Whether they set out to use multiple clouds or not, large enterprises today end up with several cloud suppliers. In fact, it’s probably hard to find a company that isn’t using some mix of Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, IBM Cloud, Salesforce.com, Oracle, Google G-Suite, ServiceNow or Box. The list goes on and on. This is more pronounced with enterprises that have a global site footprint.

The cloud, after all, gets you out of the business of hosting applications and worrying about upgrading hardware and software constantly. It also enables you to sidestep the capital commitments otherwise required.

However, the more clouds you use, the more complex connectivity becomes. Security concerns skyrocket as it becomes hard to figure out who is accessing what, from where and how. In addition, the network becomes central to application performance across the organization.

Forces at Work

Despite the network challenges multi-cloud creates, multi-cloud is here to stay and will become even more complex with time as:

  • Companies turn to even more SaaS offerings that enable them to embrace best of breed rather than multi-purpose on-premise solution bundles that have to meet various requirements of legacy environments
  • Technologies, such as serverless computing and other advances, that are only possible with cloud native applications attract more enterprise workloads
  • Adoption of Internet of Things technologies and strategies require organizations to collect and analyze data closer to scattered sensors at the edge of the network, probably in specialized cloud services
  • Companies try to mesh cloud tools with on-premises systems in hybrid configurations because stringent security or compliance requirements – or the tightly integrated nature of those legacy systems – prevents going all in with cloud


Unfortunately, this shifting, demanding and dynamic environment is not a good fit for the 20-year-old legacy MPLS wide area networks that many organizations still rely on. Besides the fact that MPLS simply can’t provide off-ramps to many cloud tools, adding bandwidth is expensive and simple network changes can take months. It’s like trying to erect a shiny new skyscraper on a stone foundation fit for a mountain cabin. Businesses are short changed on time to market and this is a big no for CxOs driving WAN transformation initiatives.

The good news is software defined-WANs promise agility and enable enterprises to realize the full potential of what multi-cloud environments have to offer. But traditional SD-WANs don’t own the network and have to partner with telcos and service providers that do, creating a suboptimal solution. This is where a fully managed SD-WAN solution, where the provider owns both the network and the software definition provides the “best of both worlds.”

A fully managed SD-WAN running on a private network can connect far-flung employees to various data centre resources while also providing direct connections to public cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, Google and Oracle as well as connectivity to SaaS platforms such as Office 365, Salesforce, WebEx and Zoom, without compromising on application performance.

A managed SD-WAN allows enterprises to shift higher value human resources from the business of assessing technology, building out the network and then constantly tweaking and optimizing it as requirements change. Patching edge-routers or boxes from traditional, SD-WAN vendors is often an operational nightmare.

When managed SD-WAN is delivered as a service, it is akin to a SaaS provider, delivering connectivity as-a-service.

While SD-WAN services can help any organization deliver consistent application performance to employees around the world, the benefits for IT are magnified in multi-cloud environments because they get a unified view that is cloud provider agnostic.

However, not all managed SD-WAN services are alike. Speed of provisioning new circuits, the reliability of the backbone, the quality of the support and ease of engagement – all make a huge difference! Look for a fully managed SD-WAN that leverages a private network for the middle mile, uses built-in acceleration and optimization tools to improve application performance, and uses best of breed layered security from partners for mission-critical applications.

So, when it comes to looking for an SD-WAN delivered as a service to support growing multi-cloud needs, look for:

  • A simple, managed global solution for multi-cloud connectivity
  • End-to-end reliability SLAs guaranteeing 99.99% uptime
  • 24x7x365 monitoring and CCIE-level support
  • Built-in WAN acceleration and optimisation, regardless of the cloud resource targeted
  • Off-ramps to all the cloud providers
  • Deployment capabilities measured in hours at any site globally
  • Support for on-demand site and bandwidth changes


CIOs invest considerably in their public and multi-cloud strategy. The productivity of developers and corporate applications is compromised, if the underlying network connectivity is flaky or if it takes too long for a predictable site connection to be up and running. Digital transformation and the move to the cloud should start with the network. That is ground zero for a multi-cloud world.


Article by ATI Partner Shashi Kiran, Chief Marketing Officer – Aryaka Networks

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Network Services
Article contributed by ATI partner Amy Brown, Director of Marketing – ViaSat

In the shift toward smart farming, connectivity everywhere is essential.

By 2050, 400 million more people will inhabit the planet, meaning food production will need to increase by 70 percent. As a result, smart farming, is going to be of increasing importance, and farmers everywhere need to be able to use technology to maximize the yield of crop. Not only will smart farming increase the efficiency of farmers via sensor-laden machines connected to the web, but a study by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts it will create up to $11 trillion in economic benefits globally by the year 2025.

To embrace smart farming, farms across America will need fast, reliable internet connections, and with many areas of the country underserved by traditional internet providers, it’s clear that other technologies — such as satellite internet — will come into play.

Connectivity fuels high-tech farming innovations

As agribusiness works to address the world’s growing food needs, companies are developing tools that leverage Internet of Things (IoT) applications to streamline work/field processes. Some of these innovations include:

• Precision Livestock Farming sensors used for monitoring when animals are going into labor, animal movement throughout the fields and alerting farmers through text updates.
• Automatic watering and irrigation, in which IoT-enabled sensors continuously monitor moisture levels and plant health
• Smart and self-driving tractors that use machine learning, GPS and robotics to aid in harvesting and tell sprayers and other farm equipment when to apply specific amounts of fertilizer/herbicides to individual plants

How Viasat Business Internet helps with agribusiness

Viasat is helping push the shift towards smart farming in the right direction by helping rural communities innovate and stay connected.

• As of 2016, 39 percent of rural areas still lacked access to broadband internet, meaning farms in those areas may be limited in their application of smart farming tools. Since satellite internet is available almost anywhere, it enables farmers in even the most remote areas to take advantage of IoT technologies.
• Viasat Business Internet offers high-speed service throughout most of the US, allowing farmers without good terrestrial connectivity options to stay competitive in agribusiness.
• It’s compatible with smart devices (IoT), and prioritized connection for businesses means no interference in critical business applications, such as precision farming, inventory management, credit card processing, high-speed file transfers, Voice-over-IP and email.

Article contributed by ATI partner Amy Brown, Director of Marketing – ViaSat
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Network Services

It’s apparent that U.S. organizations have accepted that cloud is here to stay; A recent analysis from Maverick Research found that more than 80% of CIOs estimate that more than half of their business will be conducted on cloud infrastructure by 2020, and roughly the same number predicted that applications supported by a SaaS platform will support more than half of their business transactions.

With this relatively newfound cloud acceptance, those managing the enterprise’s networking infrastructure have begun to realize that no single vendor can truly meet every need. Most businesses, particularly within enterprise and mid-market will likely require significant overhauls to their networks in order to support multi-source congestion from SaaS as well support digital transformation initiatives; as legacy networks were built for an era of static connections, a time when companies built their own private networks using largely proprietary hardware to connect to server/client networks.  

SD-WAN

Although IT professionals have been talking about SD-WAN technology for years, in 2019 it will be a major component in how networks are built and rebuilt. SD-WAN enables networks to route traffic based on centrally-managed rules and roles, regardless of where the entry or exit point of the traffic originates—and the data is fully secure. Research projects that SD-WAN networks will explode by 500%, and those businesses that aren’t currently using SD-WAN will likely be making plans for its adoption.

network-connect-3-1

One of the primary benefits of SD-WAN is that the network can be run by leaner, more agile teams of networking engineers, making it easier to make modifications as business needs change. Eventually, SD-WAN will begin to transition into more “intent-based” networking; this type of networking will change the way connectivity is delivered and, based on the defined standards, will adapt automatically to the needs of a business by analyzing various traffic events against KPI’s, flagging suspicious activities and implementing additional security measures as they’re needed.

Rohit Mehra, Vice President, Network Infrastructure, IDC says, “Intent-based networking is a significant development for the networking industry. It encompasses not only advanced levels of visibility, automation and assurance, but it is the platform on which new machine learning-based network management functionality will be built.” Since the network of the future will use machine learning and AI to become cognitive, proactive and potentially self-driven, intent-based networking is important to enable continuous adaptation to environments that are constantly in flux.

WAN Edge

Another current network trend is the increasing discussion and adoption of WAN Edge architecture as cloud continues to drive vital changes to how networks are built, requiring more flexible network architectures that can accommodate and secure connections to multiple clouds. The WAN edge is the natural connection point to the cloud and where enterprises should be plugging in new security and SD-WAN software to safely and efficiently traverse this complicated network and provide appropriate policies to locations around the world.

In 2018, Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure. SDXCentral reportedly asked Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa why the report wasn’t simply called Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN. Skorupa replied that the changes in the edge of the wide area network are much bigger than just SD-WAN. Skroupa went on to tell SDXCentral that the new WAN will include services ranging from security, to a variety of WAN optimization types, to secure web gateways, and “things like micro-segmentation all the way from the data center to the end user,” along with hosting of third-party applications in edge computing scenarios. “SD-WAN is just going to be a feature,” he said.

Network Security

As Joe mentions, the relationship between SD-WAN and security is in the process of a growing revolution. Edge devices and IoT, for example, will provide an increased area to potential threats and will create more opportunities for misconfigurations or vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, it’s not just the number of cyber attacks that have increased, but also the severity. Throughout 2019, we’ll no doubt hear more tales of infiltrations and data loss from organizations across the globe—and not just enterprise organizations, either. Due to the ever-increasing concern for security, 2019 will be another record year for network security spending and a banner year for IT security vendors and resellers. Gartner predicts that, worldwide, the IT security solutions market will increase by nearly 9% from 2018’s estimated $114 billion to over $124 billion.

Going back to SD-WAN for a minute, advisors suggest that high levels of security functionality should be built directly into the network’s foundation; ideally a wide-ranging suite of security components should be native to the network, delivered in a single SD-WAN platform in order to complement the other layers within a customer’s security posture. A few of these network security features would include:

  • Next-generation firewall
  • DDoS protection
  • Integrated intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Prevention (IPS), Anti-ransomware and Anti-virus
  • Layer 3 protection – ARP, IP ICMP protocol defense, IP spoofing, source-routing checks, fragment overlaps


SD-WAN, WAN Edge and network security are all vital solutions that companies of all sizes must seriously evaluate as the adoption of cloud in support of digital transformation journeys continues to boom. Ensuring that networks are not only efficient but also secure should be the primary concern, not just in 2019 but moving forward.  

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Network Services

Software Defined Secure Branch is a purpose built solution designed for businesses and organizations with complex multi-location IT management needs and the desire for more visibility, security protection, and control of their network. Once in place, it helps keep the network secure and accessible through a combination of simplified management, the intuitive software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution, and security.

Branch or remote office network architectures have barely changed for 15+ years. The digital enterprises of today need a network landscape that is built for the demands of the workloads of today – a network that is agile, intelligent, secure and reduces operational complexity while being cost-effective.  By 2021, 10% of midsize and large enterprises will have transitioned from piloting (during 2017) to using on-demand SDN-enabled services (Gartner, 2018 SAM Market Opportunity Forecast Readout – Network).

“Software Defined Secure Branch lets our customers focus on their business or organization as first priority, leaving the IT to us,” said Victoria Lonker, Verizon’s vice president of global products and solutions. “The simple, intuitive experience delivers rapid provisioning of new branch locations, a mobile management app, service health, application visibility and the security controls needed to protect the business.”

Verizon’s Software Defined Secure Branch, offered with Versa Networks, provides:

  • Video and cloud-based service performance leveraging SD-WAN to automatically adapt the network to help improve application performance.
  • Business continuity benefits through enterprise-grade connectivity and Verizon’s robust 4G LTEnetwork for active backup.
  • Bundled security through Verizon’s comprehensive threat management and end-to-end network encryption.
  • An application-centric network on Verizon’s sophisticated and managed infrastructure driving an enhanced user experience.
  • Intuitive mobile app-based service management and continuous monitoring capabilities for the service.
  • The service is easily accessible through the Verizon Enterprise Center online user experience portal that unifies the purchase, deployment, and management. The visibility provided through the portal gives business owners the tools needed to deliver on a better customer experience.
  • “SD-WAN is a powerful and complex solution with many moving parts. Verizon’s offer is a simple yet flexible way for businesses and partners to get technology at the level of features they need, and expand into new features as they need them,” said Brian Washburn, Practice Leader, Network Transformation and Cloud, Ovum.

Adopting Verizon’s Software Defined Secure Branch gives organizations a network landscape that is built for the digital enterprises of today. It maintains application performance and delivery, provides flexibility to easily integrate and scale the right security functions alongside advanced networking capabilities, and offers agility and better cost management.

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Network Services

ATI’s partner, Zach Renkert with TBI, takes you through Cisco Meraki’s cloud managed wireless and switching infrastructure including: MS220-8P Switch, MR30H Wireless Access Point, MR33 Wireless Access Point.

 

Watch the video for:

 

  • Overview of each devices and items included
  • Features and functions of the devices
  • Use cases

About Meraki Cloud Managed Switches:

 

Cisco Meraki provides high performance switching infrastructure suited for everything from small branch office access switches to the large enterprise with stackable Layer 3 aggregation switches. Meraki makes it easy for IT staff with a fully cloud-managed dashboard to quickly pre-stage and deployng switches seamlessly from any web browser or mobile device. The Meraki dashboard allows you to quickly configure and tag ports with voice and data VLANs, 802.1X authentication, dynamic Layer 3 routing and create robust reporting metrics on device health and behavior all in a sleek, highly visual GUI.

 

About Meraki Cloud Managed Wireless:

 

Wireless AP deployments are made simple with Meraki. With an entirely cloud-based management platform, IT teams can quickly deploy access points and configure them entirely within a web browser or mobile device. All Meraki wireless devices currently support 802.11ac Wave 2, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radios, and models operating 2×2:2 MU-MIMO with others using 3×3:3 or 4×4:4, Meraki has APs ranging from basic office coverage to ruggedized high-density coverage for any application. All Meraki APs include the robust analytics and reporting via Meraki dashboard allowing IT staff to quickly identify coverage and foot traffic patterns on their wireless network.

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Network Services
Article by ATI partner Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO – Bigleaf Networks

IT leaders at today’s cloud-enabled businesses are expected to provide the same predictable performance that they did with on-prem systems. Downtime is unacceptable, and these cloud applications need to work the way they were meant to. They need to be responsive, fast, and not frustrate users. And they must do all of this in a way that scales – working consistently as business needs change, revenue grows, and locations expand.

But cloud is creating new challenges for the network, challenges not readily solved through traditional networking technology that rely on static policies.

The first challenge is that, by nature, cloud technologies rely on the Internet, and no matter what kind of internet circuit you look to use, performance is unpredictable. We monitor thousands of internet connections ten times per second and can tell you very simply that it doesn’t matter what kind of connection you have; fiber, cable, wireless, etc., they all can experience business-affecting degradation. This can mean downtime or brownouts, and both can be expensive, frustrating to users, and potentially job-threatening to the people responsible for networking. Our data shows that on average, an ISP connection will experience 3.5 hours of downtime per month and 23 hours of major performance-affecting brownouts per month. This can be at 2 AM, so if you’re not a 24/7 business maybe that hasn’t hit you hard yet, but it can also be during the middle of the day.

The second challenge comes from the ever-shifting application landscape. If your users are leveraging the cloud well, procuring and consuming new applications all the time and shifting their use of current applications, how does the network keep up? There’s no way for network administrators to know exactly the makeup of their traffic 6 months from now (if they even know what it looks like today). This means that it’s impossible to create static network policies that can provide a good user experience over time.

Finally, the third challenge is that IT is no longer the sole gatekeeper of software provisioning. This means that, even with plentiful IT resources, there are critical technologies being used in businesses that IT doesn’t know about and has no policies to manage.

These challenges lead to an all-too-familiar game of policy whack-a-mole. Users get frustrated by application outages or poor performance. They contact IT in a huff, and now IT must decide if they’re going to ignore the problem, say it’s not a supported application, try to fix it with some new network policy, or maybe contact a vendor so that vendor can implement a new policy. At the end of the day, no one is happy, and the cloud is a point of frustration rather than empowerment.

Here’s what I think is at the root of the situation: It used to be that IT controlled every application. IT was the bottleneck and was able to control the experience. Sometimes that worked out well, but that’s not the way the world is moving.

In this new cloud era, IT is now a facilitator, end-users are interacting directly with their applications. They’re procuring, configuring, using, and troubleshooting them. Yes, they’ll still come to blame IT when they don’t work right, but the interaction model has fundamentally changed. IT leaders need network technologies that support this new model, that enable their users to be nimble and efficient with applications.

If their network is built upon a set of static, human-controlled policies, how do companies ensure performance and reliability when new applications can be added into the environment at any time? They can probably configure policies for 80 or 90 percent of their business needs. That’s pretty good, and they’ll feel like they’ve done their job, the box is checked, they can say they have failover or application prioritization. But what about when one of those new applications uses a ton of bandwidth – how does that impact their existing business-critical applications? Or when their CEO gets sent an invite to use some random videoconferencing tool they’ve never heard of for a key meeting, are their network policies going to ensure he or she can communicate effectively, or will they get a frustrated email after the call?

Beyond simple frustrations and inconvenience, if a business relies on static network policies, it’s exposed to the risk of falling behind competitors who are using the intelligent software in their network. The solution to this lack of control isn’t more policies, it’s a smarter network.

At Bigleaf, we don’t want our users to have to think about how the network will handle new applications. Frankly, everyone wants their voice calls to sound clear, their video to play smoothly, their web applications to be snappy, and their databases to be reliable. We’ve built smart software that auto-detects every type of application, classifies them into six priority categories, and automatically ensures they behave how they’re supposed to, even when the network is congested. Our users don’t need policies to get the outcome they want. It’s wonderful.

Article by ATI partner Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO – Bigleaf Networks

Learn more about SD-WAN for Enterprises here.
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Network Services

The rise of IoT, emerging technologies and increased demand for edge computing will present new security and data center challenges. Conversations will begin taking a different shape starting 2019.

“Digital business across the enterprise is now a full C-suite team pursuit,” according to Chris Pemberton in his recap of 8 top findings to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018-19. Digital initiatives topped the list of priorities for CIOs in 2019, with 33% of businesses now in the scaling or refining stages of digital maturity — up from 17% last year (Gartner, 2018). 

To address changing consumer and employee behavior, businesses are growing and adapting not just with new technologies, but by implementing new ways of accessing and connecting to them. Technology predictions for 2019 and beyond like: autonomous things, augmented analytics, AI as part of almost all development like Natural Language Processing for BI and analytics, fog and edge computing, immersive experiences with VR/AR and Mixed Reality, the continued proliferation of blockchain and as a service (cloud services) and smart things all require greater bandwidth and faster communications.

Connected systems are our new reality. And according to Cisco, global IP traffic will triple by 2021 (Cisco, 2018). With new, connected devices, traffic is crowded and the foundation of the telecommunication channel will continue to grow as it supports future technologies. In other words, much as the channel is changing with new technology, selling network and connectivity will remain the most constant and stable sales.

New technologies, interconnected devices, streaming applications, both business and personal applications running simultaneously during business hours, are all putting pressure on traditional MPLS networks. As businesses struggle to support ever-growing connectivity demands with cloud-based apps or to maintain seamless access to mission critical systems, bandwidth becomes an issue. Many networks can’t handle the increased demand, lacking speed, high capacity pipes, smart connections and adequate last mile connections. Now, connections to the cloud, branch locations, data centers, etc., require hybrid network configurations or SD-WAN to utilize gigabyte last mile options.

Prediction: Network transport should remain a key topic in customers digital transformation journeys. As more applications and workloads migrate to the cloud, the last-mile will determine the performance and user experience. Ultimately, it’s important for a selling partner to recommend direct connections to the Internet and pathways that guarantee performance, security and reliability. IoT, mobility and conferencing/collab technologies will only lead to greater sales of fiber, coax or both. The combination and innovation of SDN and gigabyte broadband will help shape enterprise networks and enable digital transformation.

5G wireless backup will be incredibly beneficial when it comes to data center connections, connections to clouds, each other/disparate locations.

Prediction: 5G connectivity will begin taking center stage as we all face a congested, traffic-filled Internet. 5G is expected to become commercial reality in 2019; it provides wireless connectivity options (e.g. back up and capitalizing on gigabyte speeds for last mile, eliminating the need for wires). It will also enable more hybrid and cloud applications with newer technologies such as machine learning, graphics rendering in the cloud for mixed reality and innovations as a result of higher bandwidth and lower latency. 5G will be a game changer on all fronts: networks, devices and allowing for new use cases for technology, applications, business processes and models.

Prediction: Data center business will look different to accommodate real-time mission critical data particularly when it comes to IoT. Fog and edge computing, which is the way data is processed and the network connections needed to bring data from the edge to the end point (mainly being the cloud), is going to become more popular. It has to be. FuturumResearch asks “if you were driving an autonomous car, would you want its communication to battle through a mess of data from users making online purchases or uploading files for their company? Or would you rather it makes a clear beeline directly to your car’s data processing center?” Futurum goes onto say, “…as we’re using augmented reality for training, smart vehicles to manage our transportation needs, millions of IoT devices and even remote robotic surgeries to save lives, we’re at a point where we can’t risk the chance of data getting stuck in digital traffic. In many cases, data delay could mean the difference between life and death.” (Futurum, 2018). 

Emerging technology like AI, IoT and 5G will increase data production and real-time, mission critical data will now need to be stored in closer, smaller data centers. An IDC study sponsored by Seagate, DataAge 2025, found that by 2025 almost 20% of data created will be real-time in nature. Hence, needing the ability to process and securely store data at the edge rather than sent to the network core for processing. The data center prediction by many telecom experts is that data center infrastructure will become more distributed with regional storage hubs and smaller city locations. These micro data centers will be bolted onto existing communication structures like telecom towers with the rollout and commercialization of 5G.

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Network Services

As advancements in technology open doors to opportunity, the business landscape has forever changed.  As new ecosystems form in the business landscape the race to compete, to satisfy client needs faster and to extend digital services farther is at an all time high. Industry lines are blurring, organizations are becoming more and more interdependent on one another and they now look to technology to make it all work. As more businesses adopt the cloud, IoT, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, lack of mission-critical connectivity means lack of progress.

Can newly formed ecosystems thrive without consistent access to mission-critical bandwidth? Can physicians seamlessly connect with health systems and hospitals? Can universities share research and information with other institutions and businesses in real time? Some cannot.

Why? Because not all enterprise buildings have access to fiber.

Across the U.S., almost all enterprise buildings with 250 employees or more are fiber-lit, while less than half of buildings with 20 to 50 employees have access to fiber, according to  Vertical Systems Group. Yet the need for fiber bandwidth is just as important at these locations. With digital infrastructure opening opportunity to companies of all sizes, this access gap translates into significant challenges for growing ecosystems.

Today, access to fiber is fundamental to the progress of every organization across every industry. As organizations become more interconnected, more instrumented and more dependent on connectivity, their networks don’t just support their businesses, their networks are their businesses.

That’s why Spectrum is investing more than one billion dollars to increase client access to their national fiber network.

They’re closing the gap for clients by absorbing the costs of fiber construction for the majority of enterprise buildings within our footprint. We believe that every enterprise should have the opportunity to reach its full potential. In fact, they’ve been adding more than 50 fiber-lit buildings to the national network every day.

Access to fiber is too important. Connectivity, too mission-critical. And digital infrastructure too fundamental to progress.


See if your building is lit for Spectrum Fiber.

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