Invisibility is the latest network management trend for small and medium sized businesses. What does that mean exactly? Well, in a nutshell, this concept deals with an overall reduction of network equipment and the simplification of network hardware. Invisible network management exists as streamlined, plug-and-play features in newer lines of network hardware designed for smaller scale business uses. It is designed for easy deployment and supports a largely BYOD environment.
This comes as a relief for smaller businesses, which for years have struggled to find solutions that properly scale to their needs. “What happens in this market is they have been given products that have been designed for the large enterprise,” says Arpit Joshipura, Dell vice president of product management, and a thought leader on the subject of invisible network management.
Vendors like Cisco and Juniper Networks have dominated the network management landscape for the past two decades. Only until recently, a business needed specialized IT to deploy and manage network equipment. For years, the Cisco Certified Interwork Expert (CCIE) was the biggest cash cow of IT certification. That has started to change. In the past few years, we have seen manufacturers bring to market fully-featured network equipment that works right out of the box, and is managed through a simple graphical user interface (GUI).
This is, Joshipura explains, the essence of invisible network infrastructure. Run some Cat5 from a network switch to a few servers and desktops, hook up a wireless security appliance, add your policies and you are done. Your office can communicate with itself, the Internet, and supports a secure BYOD environment.
“It should just work,” he says. “You don’t need a dedicated staff, and therefore IT becomes invisible.”
Small businesses looking for these types of out of the box networking solutions have a range of options. The Dell SonicWALL line is definitely worth looking at; Cisco Small Business also has products geared toward SMB users; Ubiquiti wireless access points have a good reputation with our SMB customers and techs on Spiceworks. Indeed, choices abound for affordable, easy-to-deploy networking solutions.
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Non-Linear Scaling Is the Next Frontier for Network Management Vendors
What network hardware manufacturers have yet to figure out, however, is how to scale in a way that makes sense for a growing business. “So many of these companies start as five employees and very quickly hit 100,” Joshipura explains. “All of the sudden the IT environment changes; BYOD becomes more complex, servers need to implement virtualized workloads—it becomes a real business.”
Traditional methods of linear scaling result in disproportionate IT expenditures for a company in a growth spurt. Manufacturers recognize this and are starting to think about new ways to approach these types of customers. “That is the challenge we have to solve as an industry,” Joshipura says. “Vendors that can provide growth options wherein the capital expenditures do not linearly scale are going to succeed in the next three years.”
The emergence of software defined networking will play a role in this new look of network scalability. Network management is set to undergo a renaissance of sorts as the traditionally closed and proprietary nature of network software development opens up. “Think of it the same way you would with mainframe to x86 migration 20 years ago,” Joshipura says. “Dell has taken up a leadership position to open up the networking.”
Joshipura and Dell are gearing up to unveil a new line of scalable networking products at the end of the month, the N Series for SMBs and X Series for distributed enterprises. At the moment, Dell is playing it close to the chest with the details, though they expect to lift the embargo March 31.
We will provide a detailed look at Dell’s N Series and X Series when the information becomes available. Until then, stay tuned for the latest network management products and solutions for small and medium sized businesses from the industry’s leading manufacturers.