Is Your Corporate Network Ready for the Cloud?

December 1, 2016 mellis

Is Your Corporate Network Ready for the Cloud?
Monica Ellis
Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 11:00 Corporate Network Cloud

As more organizations move workloads to the cloud that were previously premises-based, corporate networks are being put to the test. Faced with increasing traffic from IP services, IT staff must now accommodate and even prioritize the various types of data that are passing across the corporate network at any given time.

Bandwidth determines how much data can pass through your connection. If you don’t have enough capacity, problems can range from annoying (slow downloads and uploads) to business-impacting (poor VoIP call quality). These issues can obviously have a massive impact on productivity but can ultimately result in a loss of sales.

“As more applications are moved from a customer’s local area network to the cloud, we need to keep it easy to consume those services.“

In their Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2015–2020, Cisco projects global data center IP traffic will grow 3-fold over the coming years, with IP traffic accounting for more than 92 percent of total data center traffic by 2020. In fact, they claim there will be 15.3ZB of global data center traffic in 2020. That ZB stands for Zettabytes which is equal to 1 sextillion bytes or 2 to the 70th power bytes. It’s a staggering number – one that most of us mere mortals can’t even wrap their brains around unless they are among the genetically gifted for whom math is second nature.

In a unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) environment, where voice, video and data traffic are combined, how do you proactively address bandwidth issues on your network?

Preparing Your Corporate Network for the Cloud

Jason Smith, Director of Solution Design Engineering at West Corporation, and his team helps customers prepare their networks for cloud-based services every day. He recently discussed how his team helps customers prepare their networks for cloud based services and the advantages of a single vendor approach for voice and network.

“The key to preparing your network is to understand the applications you are trying to deploy.“

“With the shift to cloud services, customers tend to require larger amounts of bandwidth than they have in the past,” Smith said.  “As more applications are moved from a customer’s local area network to the cloud, we need to keep it easy to consume those services.

“Usually applications are moved to the cloud in two different scenarios:  public or private, both of which have advantages and disadvantages. Public access is typically a lower cost and faster to deploy but is generally less secure. Private access tends to be a little more expensive yet it offers more security. Private access also offers guaranteed quality of service which is huge when it comes to bandwidth-sensitive applications such as voice and video,” he continued.

Smith says the most common scenarios the team sees are:

  1. Not enough bandwidth to support a particular application
  2. Lack of quality of service (QoS) with private network provider
  3. Public network quality issues regardless of the amount of subscribed bandwidth

“The key to preparing your network is to understand the applications you are trying to deploy, where they reside, and how you plan to get to them. This will help you address several things including quality of service, amount of bandwidth needed to support the application, and will public or private access be required." 

Consider a Single Vendor Approach

“Having the same vendor deploy your network services along with applications such as voice and video can make life a lot easier for our customers,” Smith noted. “They rely on us to monitor and manage these solutions end to end so that issues are proactively mitigated before they develop into an actual problem. In the event something needs to be addressed on the network or application layer, it’s easily addressed without having to coordinate multiple vendors. It also eliminates the potential finger pointing scenario of vendors blaming each other for the issue. It’s a ‘one throat to choke or one back to pat’ scenario.”

The Benefits of a Managed MPLS Network

With the emergence of MPLS, companies can now easily incorporate voice, video and data onto a converged network, eliminating the need for separate voice and data network circuits. These services can result in cost savings of anywhere between 20 and 40 percent and allow companies to prioritize the QoS for each application to meet their specific needs.

A managed network like West’s Maxxis will leverage the power of multiple Tier 1 providers under one cohesive network, but to the customer it functions as a single network, significantly reducing the time and cost they devote to managing multiple vendors. In addition, to address business continuity concerns, multiple networks are used with multiple failovers, providing greater redundancy and survivability. A cohesive network approach enables a managed network service provider to leverage the power of the underlying infrastructures to ensure the best delivery of service to the customer.

Smith’s team consults with the customer on how their data needs to be tagged and which applications need to be prioritized – all based on the individual needs of the business. In most cases, companies are running applications over their networks where data isn’t prioritized or tagged at all. By setting up an automatic QoS configuration based on business rules, companies take the guesswork out of prioritizing traffic.

A managed network provider will also tag global domestic internet and general internet traffic differently as it comes into the network. Rules can also be set up on routers and switches that only allow certain types of traffic to flow through those devices. Traffic that shouldn’t be on the routers can be blocked, providing a huge security benefit against unwanted intrusions from spammers and malware.

Learn more about benefits of a managed network.

Managed Network vs. Managed Router

Many customers come to West with a “Frankensteinian” mash up of network solutions that have been stitched together over time. You can read the story of one of those customers, Methode, and find out how West helped to streamline their network in support of real-time IP communications.

Methode Case Study

If you’re feeling the pain of a network that hasn’t evolved with the times, West can conduct a network assessment to help you determine whether your current network is up to par or if you should consider a different approach to your network needs, whether it’s an MPLS network like mentioned above, or even SIP trunks for added capacity. Reach out to one of our network experts using the form on the right side of this page to learn more.

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