Unfortunately, this mentality can creep into plans around network edge. Enterprise IT might be able to wait months or even a couple years to take action, but this gives competitors the chance to beat you by giving a better experience to their employees and to people who will end up becoming their customers. Ultimately, a better network solution will result in a better customer experience, especially in the retail sector. So, let’s look at what decisions need to be made when considering network edge.
Planning to Scale
A scalable solution for what you need today and what you’ll want for tomorrow is the foundation for network edge. Remember, this is an investment to keep your business moving into the future. A virtualized network is simpler and more efficient to manage and can support extreme levels of scalability. Software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) will also provide improved network performance and security.
Software defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) optimize connectivity to data centers, public cloud, and SaaS environments. That’s the starting point and likely the first workload you’ll be running once the decision is made to move forward with network edge plans. Now, SD-WAN might save you money in the short-term, but the bigger impact is how it prepares your business for survival as competitors take advantage of hybrid and multi-cloud benefits. SD-WAN also allows you to optimize between cheaper internet protocol (IP) infrastructure and more expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) infrastructure, often through a single service provider, making it easier to manage your network. Most important, SD-WAN gives your business the best foundation to build strong applications with agility, reliability, and security.
If you’re not already considering SD-WAN deployment, your competitors likely are. IDC predicts spending on SD-WAN infrastructure and services will reach $8.05 billion by 2021. AT&T’s Josh Goodell, Vice President of Edge Solutions called SD-WAN “the killer app” and noted that the company is deploying 28,000 endpoints . Still, he cautioned that it’s not as simple as a plug-and-play solution.
Getting the Right Equipment
To optimize network edge in your enterprise, instead of buying different types of fixed-function equipment, you can simplify deployment with a universal customer premise equipment (uCPE) platform that is open and programmable. The first function to deploy at that edge is SD-WAN. This increases simplicity and flexibility, giving IT more control to route network traffic and change bandwidth requirements to avoid overprovisioning. Plus, there’s the added benefit of not having to port software from one environment to another.
Industry professionals agree that uCPE is the backbone of SD-WAN deployment. Jeff Lewis, Vice President of Data Product Management at Comcast Business, says the company is “all in on the uCPE approach.”
In order for enterprises to adopt the technology with greater ease, Intel® Select Solutions for uCPE are rigorously tested with benchmark standards, eliminating much of the guess work for deployment. Intel is currently working with Advantech, CASwell, Lanner, and Supermicro on commercially available solutions.
A system integrator (SI) might be the best avenue for enterprises to tie-in all of the aspects of network edge. Deep knowledge of applications and broad industry experience allows a SI (either in-house, an outside agency, or offered by a service provider) to configure a custom infrastructure and manage SD-WAN rollout in a manner that best fits your particular business needs.
A common architecture has many advantages for software management and consistent performance. IT needs to be ready to adapt as new features become available and business needs change. Building an agile and secure network that can scale when and how it’s needed to deliver a consistent and reliable user experience is the best way to be ready for those changes.
Network edge is a complex roadmap, but IT needs to prepare today. Ross Winser, Senior Research Director at Gartner, says the critical time for organizations to adopt the growing trend starts in 2020. With a diverse portfolio of solutions and deep collaboration with industry leaders, Intel can help IT build a homogeneous network platform that can support a variety of use cases with the flexibility to scale and without the added cost and complexity of re-architecting.
In a subsequent blog, I’ll go into greater detail about the security benefits of network virtualization and why it’s critical for edge applications. For more insight, sign up for the Intel Network Builder Newsletter and listen to Dan Rodriguez, Vice President of Intel Data Center Group and General Manager of the Network Compute Division, discuss Intel’s unique role in supporting network infrastructure from core to edge on Chip Chat episode 574.