Driven by a proliferation of smart mobile devices that support enterprise productivity tools, a fast-growing need for access to content, data and applications is enabling an increasingly mobile workforce that demands any-time, anywhere, enterprise application and content usage.
Technologies such as virtualization and cloud-based services are changing the way IT thinks about making content and applications available to the user, by requiring on-demand capacity and accessibility. As a result, the definition of mobility is changing to offering, managing and supporting a seamless user experience across devices, applications and networks.
Consequently the tools, processes and constructs available to network administrators are still mired in a world of VLANs, IP addresses, rather than users, devices, and applications.
To ensure consistency of user experience, visibility for troubleshooting and audit, and to provide adequate control over who has access to what from where and when, networking needs to provide tools that manage mobility. Gary Newbold, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks, discusses the transition that requires several building blocks to provide a cohesive model to address mobility.
Phase 1 - Disparate networks
Most of today's networking is in Phase 1, where different networks provide different forms of connectivity with little intelligence, awareness or synergy. There is no standard model for controlling and managing users' access to corporate data and applications that is federated across the campus and the cloud. Likewise users' access to an enterprise network, coming through a public infrastructure, typically imposes a discontinuity in user experience, for example by forcing a user to go across a VPN infrastructure which in turn is managed separately.
Vendors are beginning to move to Phase 2 where the level of intelligence that recognizes users is beginning to be built, deployed and utilized.
Phase 2 - Islands of awareness
Phase 2 is marked by a move to add a layer of intelligence that builds awareness of users, devices and applications, plus the ability to deal with their mobility across different media, locations and times. This intelligence ensures a good user experience, while the network administrator has the tools to deal with user, device and application mobility, from configuration and control, to visibility, monitoring and audit.
With the addition of the layer of intelligence, enterprises are able to consider all elements of a potential BYOD deployment together, not in isolation. Contextual analysis can be applied at the network level for application usage. With context, the network is able to communicate with users and document their real requirements. The network then has the ability to deal with performance elements like latency, error rate and uptime, thereby delivering the best Quality of Service (QoS) for specific users on certain applications.
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