Tips for Switching Networking Tech With Less Disruption

Networking technology is changing fast. In fact, there are four new technologies that are frequently beyond called ‘disruptive’ networking. That doesn’t mean they interrupt your communications. Instead, the term refers to how they are completely changing the game. Eventually, every enterprise network is going to be adopting some or all of these tools, and companies need a clean strategy to adopt them without making them disruptive to business operations.

The Four New Tools

The first of the big four is Software Defined Networking (SDN). It provides a new way to manage networking architecture. It reduces emphasis on hardware and creates dynamic networking management. That’s a lot of ways to say that it adapts to rapidly changing needs within a network, and it enables smart software or AI to optimize the handling of those changes.

If you want SDN on a larger scale, you might look to SD-WAN. It’s a software-defined network on a wide-area scale. It utilizes the same principles but unites local networks across large distances. This enables a central smart management system to organize traffic in multiple sites simultaneously.

Intent Based Networking (IBN) expands the concept of SDN. This is where AI, machine learning and other automation tools can be incorporated into network management. The software definitions are refined by algorithms that adhere to overarching goals for the system. As the software continues to manage the network, it self-improves and promises ever more efficient networking.

Lastly, we have Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). This is technology that virtualizes network management. It further de-emphasizes hardware as the defining component of a network, and it enables the other disruptive technology to proliferate through large systems with less investment.

It’s easy to see how each of these technologies meet the criteria of being disruptive. Making them work for you and not against you can be a challenging transition. Let’s look at ways to navigate the worst obstacles.

Visible Networking Solutions

This is a catch-all term that aims to make the networking shift and general solution management easier for members of every team to see. The idea is that visible solutions reduce stress and help personnel transition with less frustration. A few tools help establish visibility and a fluid transition.

It starts with open standards. Having open standards helps every team reference the same core goals and values, and it often leads to the development of an open ecosystem in an open-source project. Customers, developers and partners can all see the master plan unfold, and they can all contribute their experience and perspective to further development.

The challenge of maintaining visible networking solutions is that it can slow the transition process. This can be a good thing for stability, but it can make budgeting more difficult to predict. The tradeoff is that the slowed transition gives you opportunities to test the waters before diving in fully. For instance, SDN expansions can be tested on a private subnet before production tools are added to it.

Walk Before You Run

In fact, testing disruptive technology on private subnets is a great way to think about the overall approach. The idea of walking before you run is pretty obvious. In terms of disruptive networking tech, it can steer you towards embracing each stage of your new infrastructure. Since SD-WAN is a natural evolution beyond SDN, you can reasonable test SDN at a single site before trying to expand to the wider network. The step-by-step approach is filled with learning opportunities.

The key to success is to treat every setback as a genuine learning experience. Rather than cataloguing solutions in a mental checklist, setbacks and their solutions should be meticulously documented. They can then be easily added to operating procedures and make subsequent network overhauls easier.

Get Experience

As you work up the technological ladder, you are eventually going to come to the frontier of new technology. In many ways, IBN is where you’ll find that frontier. The automation and AI promises of IBN are exciting, and that excitement entices many IT teams to fly too close to the sun. This is a predictable wall that will require you to reach outside of your own workforce to garner necessary experience.

This lesson extends far beyond IBN. Adopting leading-edge technology can give many businesses the chance to pull ahead of the competition, but there is always a risk of stalling, overspending and underperforming. Frontier technology should always be approached with caution and with the support of genuine expertise.

Move With Purpose

The key to finding the right experience is in setting appropriate goals. New technology should be adopted with specific purposes in mind. IBN can revolutionize how networks function. NFV can proliferate that revolution rapidly. It’s important to remember that not all revolutions end well.

Your narrow goals are what temper technological changes. They’ll empower you to find niche experts who can implement the disruptive technology to your clear purposes. They’ll create well-defined steps that help you walk with stability and move at a pace that enables your teams to fold their experiences into your operating procedures. Your goals are the backbone of your technology strategy. Without them, you can’t hope to follow any of the advice above.

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