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Friday, April 7, 2017

How mobile is defining the corporate network

Corporate IT networks have evolved significantly over the past 20 years, first due to the emergence of the World Wide Web and subsequently because of the introduction of cloud computing and mobile devices. Currently, many IT departments are focused on further investments that would improve network scalability and flexibility:

  • A sample of 192 responses to a March 2017 TechTarget survey of enterprise decision-makers found that roughly half (49 percent) of respondents stated that software and system upgrades were a priority this year. One-quarter of them also planned to connect their existing on-premises networks to the cloud. 
  • These changes could take the form of additional spending on initiatives such as virtual private networks, software-defined WANs and the Internet of Things. Accordingly, administrators are considering a broad range of legacy and cutting-edge technologies to support the evolving requirements of their networks.
  • Mobile device usage in the workplace has surged since the release of the first iPhone in 2007. A 2015 study from Tech Pro Research revealed that 74 percent of organizations either planned to allow or were already permitting employees to use personal smartphones and tablets as part of bring-your-own-device initiatives.

All these shifts in network strategy, whether a renewed commitment to VPNs or a fresh focus on virtualization, are motivated in part by the unique demands that mobile workers and devices place on the network. Let's dive into what a modern network must do to accommodate today's workflows:

1. Be scalable across multiple locations and computing environments

With many workers now collaborating with colleagues from their homes or company branch offices, network administrators have to ensure a consistent, secure experience at all these sites. For individual applications, this may can entail attention to fine-grained tasks such as implementing bidirectional HTTPS access.

More broadly, crafting such an experience may require more extensive use of both virtualization (of multiple kinds) and cloud computing services, such as Microsoft Azure. These platforms aid the centralization of IT services, while also offering superior protections to almost anything that an in-house technical team could stitch together on its own.

2. Feature mobile device management solutions and expertise

Mobile device management platforms, such as VMware AirWatch, as well as training in both Microsoft and Citrix technologies are valuable assets in overseeing the multi-site office. More specifically, they help administrators enforce the installment of security updates and patches.

"Outdated operating systems and applications are leading causes of security incidents."

Outdated operating systems and applications are leading causes of security incidents. Even Apple iOS, long seen as a paragon of safety among OSes, was recently vulnerable to a Wi-Fi chip hack, which was addressed in a dot-release update to iOS 10. MDM streamlines the administration of mobile devices, making them as easy to locate and control as desktop PCs. Over-the-air delivery options (hence names such as AirWatch), broad device compatibility and functionality with multiple service providers are all essential features for MDM solutions.

Smartphone usage has reshaped corporate IT networks.Smartphone usage has reshaped corporate IT networks.

3. Be flexible enough to handle ever-growing workloads

Cisco has estimated that IP traffic reached 1 zettabyte in 2016 and will reach 2.3 zettabytes by 2020. Smartphone traffic should surpass PC traffic this decade, with PCs dropping from a 53 percent share in 2015 to only 29 percent in 2020. Overall traffic is not only increasing, it is surging as a direct result of the growing use of mobile endpoints for critical computing tasks.

Networks can adjust to the traffic surge through further virtualization and tighter MDM implementation in order to shore up both scalability and security. As smartphones and tablets increase in power and decrease in average starting price, it will be crucial for network administrators and security personnel to have clear strategies in place for future-proofing the network for more traffic, incidents and upgrades.

Get a start on network and mobile device management at New Horizons

Ove​rseeing today's plethora of mobile devices in an enterprise environment requires extensive technical knowledge and expertise. You can develop these skills at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers near you. We offer a variety of courses in the relevant Microsoft, VMware and Citrix stacks, which will give you the background, training and experience you need to manage networks for a modern IT department.

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