“Give me the best servers you have”, they said.
“Give me the best computers you have”, they said.
“Give me more mobile devices”, they said.
“Give me the network required to use all these things”, they (almost) never said.
The enterprise network is still very much considered to be just that hole in the wall next to the electricity outlet. It used to be that you came to work and moved the mouse to wake the computer. Later you plugged your laptop into that other weird looking jack labeled “data” and expected to have access to whatever it is you need to be able work. These days you bring your laptop and other mobile devices and you want the same access no matter if you are in your office, a conference room or at the cabin by the lake (where you really should not work but hey, whatever floats your boat!).
But what happens on the other side of the jack? How is it possible that your mobile device can connect to servers and show the same content as your computer? Why is it sometimes faster than lightning and sometimes like trying to swim in mud? The company datacenter just went through a refresh and everything is state of the art so why is it still so slow for the users?!
Would you go to a car dealer and say “show me the fastest sports car you have and I will buy it …. so that I can go drive it on a road full of potholes!” Probably not. You would want a beautifully asphalted highway with no intersections and preferably no other cars anywhere in sight. Just like you want your device to give you your content when you ask for it.
During the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk about datacenters and how they are supposed to be built to ensure reliable and fast delivery of content. A lot of customers, even smaller ones, have realized that they need more than just servers. With the introduction of the Nexus family we have seen a big increase in high performance datacenter networking. But there is still a lot to be done about many enterprise networks.
When did you last refresh your access layer? How many different vendors do you have? Is the network built according to proven practices?
How do you maintain a secure access layer? How do you control who accesses your network? How do you control WHAT they access?
Do you have a policy on how to manage access by different devices? Does UserX have the same access from their mobile device as their laptop? Do you WANT UserX to have the same level of access no matter what device they have or would you prefer to limit it on, for example, mobile devices?
Do you allow users to bring their own devices? What kind of access do they have using privately owned devices?
How do you make certain that your policies are honored?
How much time is spent on reconfiguration of access switches? Would you like to have a fully automated network where who you are, what device you use and where you connect decides what you can access?
Is your network the muddy road or the highway?