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In a recent Innovation blog, I discussed the genesis of Borderless Networks at Cisco and traced the path of technology advances that have served this vision over the last year. To offer another perspective on trends affecting today’s networks, I’d like to point readers to an Infonetics Research whitepaper on Borderless Networks.

Infonetics begins by citing some key “mistakes” being made by organizations looking to take best advantage of the rapid technological changes that are transforming the face of communications and collaboration. Network designers who react to each change or new requirement by adding new equipment and services in a piecemeal approach are struggling to keep pace. Network operators who are faced with testing, deploying, and managing a growing base of networking devices and users are unable to take advantage of the operational economies of consolidated systems, consistent services, and central policies. Network planners who have limited visibility and control over network conditions – present and future – face significant challenges in meeting onrushing IT and business demands.

How can we think about breaking down borders – and barriers — on the network? Infonetics opens up the black box and suggests five key areas that companies and network administrators should consider in order to get the most of out of the network:

 1. A Reliable, High Performance Network. In a borderless world characterized by lighting fast consumption, sharing, and production of information, high performance is necessary for bandwidth-hungry applications to work on demand, anywhere, at any time.

 2. Ubiquitous Network Coverage. Increasingly dynamic and mobile users require network access regardless of location, often necessitating an architecture that includes wireless LANs and integration with external private and public networks.

 3. Network Security. With more users bringing consumer technologies into the network and toggling between internal and external networks, smart security policies and technologies are as important as ever.

 4. Comprehensive Management and Policy. The network doesn’t just move packets. The network is a function of a wide range of tasks, processes, applications and networked devices. Centralized management and policy control over well-integrated networks can break down this inherent complexity.

 5. Integration Framework for Coupling Networks and Applications. Users are coming to expect a similar high quality experience across various network connections and devices. It will become increasingly useful for the network to understand context and adjust resources as necessary to optimally support different conditions (e.g., automatically adjusting bandwidth or resizing video).

 Infonetics goes on to discuss the benefits of borderless networks, from workplace flexibility to business agility to applications in specific verticals including healthcare, retail, and public safety. For instance, imagine nurse hotlines combined with network technology to facilitate immediate multimedia-rich connections between patients and caregivers, as well as immediate responses.

 What challenges do you face in moving towards a borderless networks approach? Are you already reaping some benefits from your Borderless Network Architecture? Let us know.

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