The Beginning of the End of the Private Network

    December 20, 2016
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    By Tony  MacDonald

    With network operations managers under pressure to lower costs, and as advancements are made on a number of virtual fronts, could private networks become a thing of the past?

    Not too long ago, companies were installing T1 lines, setting up distributed data servers, and allocating large portions of their budget to the establishment and maintenance of private networks. However, with the advent of smartphones, tablets, and wearable technologies, users are bringing more devices into the workplace, all of which require access to the company’s networking infrastructure.

    All this hardware complicates the needs of your company’s network, which now must adjust for dozens or hundreds of upgrades in any given year. Because of this, more and more companies are migrating away from the private network, a trend that some analysts are speculating could be permanent.

    Virtualization Is Cheaper

    Money talks, and virtual network providers promise substantial savings after legacy infrastructure is made virtual. After all, hardware is one of the biggest costs associated with network management. Since network managers are increasingly under pressure to reduce operating costs, the shift towards inexpensive solutions is becoming more attractive.

    According to TechTarget, not only do companies save money on equipment when virtualizing, but also on maintenance. “There are two important benefits of virtualization,” says Rick Vanover, IT Infrastructure Manager for Alliance Data. “Not only is the maintenance cost removed for the equipment, but the dependency on hardware is also abstracted by virtualization.”

    Network-as-a-Service

    Each year, virtual networks become a more feasible option to replace legacy hardware — not only because of the savings they offer, but also because of their considerable reliability. Network-as-a-service options are available for virtually every network function, and can allow network managers to reduce or even eliminate private hardware.

    “vCPE replaces premises appliances with hosted functions, and virtualizing firewalls and VPN services in this manner is already under consideration,” said President and Founder of CIMI Corporation Tom Nolle. “SD WANs can use Internet tunnels and private VPN services in combination to serve more sites at a lower cost, and they facilitate a transition to pure internet VPNs. If you host SD WAN edge elements as vCPE, you end up with no private network devices at all, and enterprise networks could transition entirely to internet overlays.”

    Using the Cloud

    Cloud computing has evolved in recent years, moving more companies’ existing networks to the cloud. The wireless LAN market was one of the first to start utilizing a more cloud-based approach to building private networks, and today cloud tech is almost impossible to avoid.

    As companies gain access to more reliable internet and higher WAN-bandwidth, more cloud options are beginning to open up. Networking in this manner allows companies to install fewer management devices at different premises, pushing routing and management to the cloud.

    Where Private Networks May Continue

    While network virtualization options continue to grow and develop, the fact remains that many areas of the country don’t have an internet connection reliable enough to take advantage of such services. According to a report issued by the FCC at the beginning of 2016, 6% of the American population still does not have access to fixed terrestrial internet service at 10Mbps download/1Mbps upload, and 5% lack access to such services at 4Mbps/1Mbps.

    That all means almost 20 million Americans do not have the option to purchase high speed internet. Naturally, it follows that there are businesses that would be unable to connect reliably enough to take advantage of these new virtual options.

    Managing Your Network

    Regardless of whether your company is running a private network or taking full advantage of virtualization, one thing is for sure; no one wants to waste money paying for services and provisions that aren’t being used. Software like TeamQuest’s Vityl Monitor comprehensively tracks performance and resource utilization, ensuring that network configurations are highly optimized. The implementation of any IT resource requires careful planning, and these tools can save time and money by avoiding both outages and overprovisioning.