12 September, 2019
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How to Optimise Your IT Network and Spend

Network emulation can be a key tool to overcome barriers in getting the most out of your network. Here’s how.

Four Boardroom Members

Network emulators like the Calnex SNE model complex real-life systems to simulate the real conditions under which applications and platforms need to perform. This provides a safe, repeatable environment in which to explore various ideas that can enhance a given network. Here are just four issues IT networks commonly suffer that network emulation can help solve:

1. Previously optimised network creaking under new traffic and user behaviour pressures.

A network team may have designed and implemented a perfect network for a business’s purpose, but the wants and needs of any company change over time. New applications and functionality, and changing work practices and traffic patterns can all contribute to a once fit-for-purpose network starting to show its age. When updates no longer work, a network overhaul or even a completely new IT system might be called for. Motivations for a new network or IT system include increased productivity, better customer experience and satisfaction, or maintaining or strengthening competitive advantage.

To understand how a new network or IT system will impact applications, processes and business function, IT teams need to have intimate knowledge of the new architecture, ensuring that the right devices are in the right places doing the right things for their purpose. Network emulation allows these teams to build and evaluate an experimental model of the network, including its topology and application flow. Various scenarios can be introduced and tested on the emulated network to measure and optimise performance before purchase decisions are made.

2. Network risks becoming hard to manage.

Risks are inherent to network management. Any new devices, access points or external media pose a cybersecurity threat. But critical network outages also pose a significant threat, and can be caused by simple human error, poor device configuration or hidden bottlenecks. Network monitoring mitigates some of this risk, helping IT teams providing exception-based alerting to spot abnormal usage patterns and performance dips. And it can also help find, fix and repair issues rapidly.

Network emulation complements network monitoring solutions by adding prevention to network risk management. With IT teams able to run through various disaster scenarios in a safe, simulated environment, they are prepared to react to them, and can build protections into the system. This reduces unnecessary operating and management costs associated with any disaster by decreasing the chances of disaster happening in the first place, while at the same time allowing effective plans to be put in place that minimise losses from unpreventable catastrophic events.

3. Better and/or cheaper network technology exists but unsure of its potential impact on the network.

It is often the case that IT teams renew service contracts, with e.g. WAN providers and data centres, automatically, without thinking that there may be better and/or cheaper alternatives. They may also be concerned that a new provider or technology could have a negative impact on their service or the network’s performance.

Network emulation allows these teams to validate any new technology on their network before deployment. This provides a direct before-and-after comparison to inform purchase decisions, without having to manage the risk of trialling a product on the real-world system.

4. Too many unknowns in migrating to the cloud.

Similarly, many business are turning to the cloud to increase the reliability of their network while significantly reducing costs, and thereby drive their competitive advantage. Yet poor planning can mean those who make the migration find that applications that before performed well become bogged down within a cloud environment, and sometimes network failures occur leading to data loss.

To solve this, a network emulator allows IT teams to measure the actual throughput, responsiveness and impact of impairments on applications within a simulated network that replicates the expected conditions within the cloud. This knowledge can also be applied in deciding on cloud providers and WAN bandwidth requirements, as well as application resource and storage locations, workload provisioning, and even deployment and relocation planning.

Anand Ram
VP Marketing

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