Most network engineers are familiar and comfortable with the process of designing and implementing networks. They also know troubleshooting network-related issues in the wired and wireless networks can range from simple to difficult, depending upon the understanding of the technology deployed, management tools, and processes.

As we see software-defined networking (SDN) emerge, and customers asking for software-defined network during the design phase, the network as we know it today will evolve into a cloud-based controller design.

 Cisco’s Meraki offers a cloud-based network solution to manage security appliances, Ethernet switches and wireless access points including mobile device management or MDM.

A few things to think about in moving to this solution.

Deployment/Operations

Network designers and day-to-day operational support have to work in harmony in order to effectively deploy branch office equipment.  In most cases, this function can and will be handled by separate groups within a company’s IT staff.  Software defined networks will use the same tools in provisioning, deploying, and operational management.

Design

The design of corporate offices has to meet the expectations of endpoint devices and clients.. Features such as 802.1X, Power over Ethernet (PoE),  Layer 7 firewalling, WAN optimization and zero-touch deployment are taken into consideration by network architects while in the design phase of a new network.  So how can we effectively keep all of the features required by end users and secure infrastructure from Layer 7, while reducing the cost and time it takes to deploy infrastructure? As network architects, we need to answer these questions during the design phase and will continue to do so.

Deployment

Once the design is in place, the wired and wireless networks must be delivered in an efficient manner.  Deploying networks requires downtime and patience from the team using the network.  Ease of installation and migration help to lower the amount of time the network is unavailable.  Organizations require networks to be up and online for employees to complete functions core to the business.

Network architects and deployment engineers are in the business of making services available to the companies while minimizing deployment time and maximizing network availability.  Incorporating zero-touch deployment into the migration strategy is becoming a key object in implementing new technology at remote locations.

Operations and Management

As software defined networks become more ingrained into a network solution, we are starting to see deployment of equipment and infrastructure management become one.  The same systems which are used to configure infrastructure now will be used to monitor, report and trend on infrastructure.  Fault tolerance, monitoring, alerting, device troubleshooting, security, ongoing configuration management and software upgrades can be managed under one console in the Cisco Meraki cloud-managed solution.

Bandwidth usage can be tracked instantaneously and trended for capacity management, and avoid bandwidth usage surprises.  Application-aware switches, access points and security appliances will allow for action to be taken through the management console instantaneously.   Action can be taken on end-user devices when applications have abnormal bandwidth usage or security threats occur.  The Meraki clound-managed solution can also report on who is using the network at the access point, security appliance, or switch level.

Summary

Cisco’s Meraki solution with security appliances, Ethernet switches and wireless access points brings together the design, deployment and management of network equipment under one umbrella.    As we see software defined networks adopted as a strategy, architects will expect the network devices to be deployed and managed in a cloud-based solution.   No longer will we see one system to deploy infrastructure, another system to monitor and yet another to manage infrastructure.  Software defined networks will be expected to do every aspect.

 

Image credit: Thenextweb.com 

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