Corporate networks have long become an integral part of modern business processes for any company. Indeed, the vast majority of the manager’s tools are applications: mail, CRM, Microsoft Office, telephony, corporate chats and messengers, and the workplace has long been transformed from a stationary computer to a mobile laptop, tablet or even a phone. This became possible not only thanks to the rapid development of gadgets, but also imperceptible to most of the development of network technologies.
Corporate networks have come a long way, starting from unmanaged candles with a Linux server to a complex branched network with elements of virtualization.
Peculiarities of requirements for corporate networks
Of course, the complexity and functionality of a corporate network depends on the tasks assigned to it. It is one thing to combine an extensive network of branches with the head office and configure access policies to the necessary resources depending on user roles, and quite another to close the needs of a small office for 20-30 people.
However, the primary requirements for networks are the same for everyone, and these are:
- Productivity – throughput (it is important to have a margin of 30-50%) and speed (how users will receive applications depends on network delays).
- Reliability – the ability of the network to perform the specified functions: availability and fault tolerance (it is important that possible force majeure events do not significantly affect the work process).
- Security – ensuring data integrity and controlled access to the network and corporate resources from both the outside and the inside.
- Scalability – as the ability to add new network devices as the network infrastructure grows or to combine multiple offices into one network with a single management console.
Of course, these are not universal requirements, everyone will have their own and many more, but it is important that they are all equally important for both wired and wireless networks, that is, for WiFi.
Building a modern wired and WiFi network: problems and solutions
#1. Separate development of WiFi and LAN networks
At the beginning of its journey, the WiFi network was like a separate network created to ensure customer loyalty or marketing research, and it had almost no operational use. However, over time, everything changed very dramatically and in most cases WiFi became almost the main means of connecting to the corporate network.
The lack of wires and fears that WiFi could become a weak point in network security somewhat delayed its widespread use in the corporate segment, but retail and logistics facilities implemented it much earlier (due to the specifics of use).
When the main network was already built and the question of the need to implement WiFi arose, it was often two different solutions that functioned separately and were difficult to administer. This led to the fact that usually wired and wireless networks were built on equipment from different manufacturers.
Of course, the main players in the market have always tried to promote their solutions comprehensively, and from 2015 to 2019, they already had WiFi network equipment in their portfolio. This time coincided with the life cycle of the equipment, in addition, several iterations of WiFi development have already passed (802.11ac wave1 and wave2, which then changed to 802.11ach), which, together with the spread of applications, became an incentive for updating networks.
#2. Faster transition to remote work
Apart from purely internal factors, the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had a big impact: offices closed and people started working from home. As a result, the transformation of workplaces from fixed to mobile has become vital, and network flexibility has become a key requirement alongside security.
The industry already had something to respond to the new challenges – 3rd generation cloud solutions provided advanced analytics and broad capabilities for managing the entire network and other network services.
And here the concept seems to have become clear – depending on the needs, the SMB or Enterprise line with cloud or local management is offered. But another crisis was added to COVID-19, which was felt not by everyone, but only by those who used microcircuits and chips in production.
#3. Interruptions in production and supply — a “zoo” of equipment
Top smartphones, luxury cars and, of course, manufacturers of network equipment felt the shortage of microcircuits and semiconductors, and here was added the accident in the Panama Canal, which only intensified the crisis. The terms of production and delivery of equipment have increased by 4-5 times, and this has made significant adjustments to the criteria for choosing equipment – availability and delivery terms have become almost the most important factor.
The situation, where it was necessary to close existing needs, forced to mix different manufacturers again, creating a “zoo” of equipment, which as a result caused complications in the administration and implementation of such solutions. Of course, the equipment speaks the language of protocols, which are mostly open and work the same, but the syntax and logic of the console are different from different manufacturers. And this means that solutions from different manufacturers cannot be combined into a single control panel (local or cloud), because these solutions are mostly proprietary.
#4. Difficulty managing equipment even from one manufacturer
Market leaders or class A vendors usually have several lines of equipment in their portfolio, thanks to which it is possible to optimize solutions from the point of view of implementation terms. But even at one manufacturer, solutions are built on different lines of equipment, which does not allow you to get a single control panel, because in essence these solutions are different.
And this is not done on purpose, but because the market lives by the laws of the jungle and the stronger absorbs the weaker – one producer buys another. As a result, his decisions are fully or partially included in the new owner’s portfolio. This approach allows you to significantly expand the range of products and services, but requires great effort and investment to adapt new solutions to the existing concept.
An alternative solution for building and scaling corporate networks
Solutions to problems are offered by the official distributor of BAKOTECH in terms of solutions of the company Extreme Networks , which developed and implemented the concept of universal network devices. We are talking about switches and access points, the feature of which is the ability to work under different operating systems (in one unit of time, of course). This solution allows you to build new and scale existing networks. In combination with this, Extreme Networks offers a management and monitoring system that supports equipment from other vendors, and this allows you to fully manage the entire “zoo” of equipment.
With the beginning of a full-scale invasion, most companies froze their projects, against the background of which the procurement crisis receded into the background, just like Covid-19. However, despite the aggression, business must continue to work, and corporate networks, as a business tool, must meet modern requirements and ensure uninterrupted operation of Ukrainian enterprises even in the most demanding environments.
Author of the article: Dmytro Kozlov, Business Development Manager, BAKOTECH