Virtualization, cloud computing, and wireless technologies are fundamentally changing enterprise computing, providing revolutionary gains in productivity and cost savings. They are also driving a complete rethinking of enterprise networking architectural strategy. The well-documented impact of these disruptive technologies affect everything from server strategies to power requirements. However, one of the most affected areas—the enterprise network access layer—has been left out of the conversation.
Traditional enterprise network architectures establish “rules of thumb” for access technologies, setting a foundation for network design and allowing customization for specific needs. For example, the question “How many switch ports do I need on this floor?” used to easily be answered by counting desks and assigning three to four Ethernet ports per desk. The answer to “What network equipment and services do I put into each branch?” was easily determined by identifying the number of people in the branch and the most affordable type of equipment to install.
Cloud computing, virtualization, and mobility have converged to fundamentally alter these base assumptions and force companies to rethink network access architectures, particularly their branch networking strategy. Cloud computing and powerful, smart mobile devices create an environment where one home-based employee can be performing a business-critical function—blurring the line defining the network edge.
Often, branch offices and teleworker locations are where an enterprise’s customers engage with their brand. Providing secure, robust information and functionality at the point of service can dramatically increase company performance and customer satisfaction. For these reasons, remote worker locations must also be controlled and secured as much as the corporate headquarters.
In today’s virtual enterprise, access to corporate resources must be secure, reliable, and manageable, with consistently enforced policy while simultaneously allowing access from anywhere at any time. This is why access network strategies have become critical to business growth. If IT can empower every remote worker with the full capabilities available at headquarters, the business can differentiate itself and directly influence the company’s bottom line.
In this paper, we will examine the requirements of providing and supporting a secure, robust, accessible remote network. Instead of returning to the costly, inflexible network architectures that have traditionally been deployed, we will show how enterprises can benefit from a cloud-enabled approach that pushes mission-critical security and functionality beyond the confines of the corporate headquarters; provides the flexibility and business agility needed to meet remote worker needs; and does not require “big iron” equipment to deliver but instead off-loads compute-intensive tasks to the cloud to redefine the economics of deploying remote networks.
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