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Network Management

Welcome to the New WWW

Many of us grew up during the mass proliferation of the internet and World Wide Web. It’s fair to say that few technological advancements over the last two decades have had more impact on society than the Web, which has grown from reaching less than 10% of the world population to just under 40 % today. During this period, U.S. business productivity has risen by 20% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Coincidence? I think not.

Today, a new definition of the original WWW is emerging and promises to drive similar business productivity gains. It’s the “work Whenever, Wherever, and on Whatever device” (WWW) era. While this trend has also been referred to as CoIT (Consumerization of IT) and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), they all boil down to the same events: the rise of mobility comprising 15% of internet traffic, the proliferation of mobile devices, and the first wired-from-birth generation—the millennials—who will reach 40% of the workforce by 2015.

This new WWW era is driving businesses, especially SMBs, to rethink the way people work. Companies are creating flexible workplaces and giving employees freedom of where, when, and on what devices they work. Businesses who adopt a more flexible workplace are more likely to attract and keep top employees, ultimately driving greater productivity.

So what does the new WWW era indicate for IT? Before we can discuss the impact, it helps to address the myths surrounding cloud and mobility.

  • MYTH #1— Everything is Moving to the Cloud: As a recent McKinsey study on SMB cloud adoption illustrates, customer-facing productivity apps are leading the migration to the cloud, while tier-one business application apps are lagging. The fact is that certain behind-the-firewall applications and their data are here to stay, creating a “partly cloudy” forecast for IT.
  • MYTH #2 — Mobile Devices Will Displace PCs: Despite the fact that the use of smartphones and tablets has surpassed that of PCs, the PC remains the workhorse for SMBs. Today’s PC operating systems represent three decades of evolution. While mobile devices will not replace PCs, they are supplementing them. According to a recent Cisco report on BYOD, the average number of devices per employee is expected to reach 3.3 by 2014.
  • MYTH #3 — Public Internet Replaces Private Networks: If you embrace the new IT realities of cloud and mobile, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the public internet will replace the private business network. Here’s the rub: the internet is a best effort network, whereas business networks deliver layers of security, end-to-end visibility and control, application-specific optimizations, and enable compliance. Today, IT organizations use IPSEC or MPLS VPNs (virtual private networks) to connect remote sites and workers with on-premise IT resources. Even if a company was entirely mobile and all of their IT resources were cloud-based, rendering traditional VPN solutions obsolete, there would still be a need for an overlay virtual network.

With myths debunked, we can now discuss the IT impact of the new WWW era, which is far-reaching and promises to retool how organizations approach IT policies and business infrastructure.

More network traffic: Imagine syncing the average employee’s Microsoft Exchange inbox—you know; the one that has over a year’s worth of email messaging—everyday across three different devices. This is just one factor that is increasing network traffic in the WWW era. Others include multi-tasking across devices, increased video traffic, and more intermixed personal traffic. All of this additional traffic, which is generated from the interaction of mobile devices with behind-the-firewall resources, passes through the company firewall and clogs its internet connection.

Less security: In the security world there is a simple but painfully true axiom: the larger the attack surface, the greater the chance of a successful attack. Using simple math, 3.3 devices per employee represents a 3X increase in risk. Actually, those odds become much higher due to the relative weakness of mobile device security when compared to PCs. In 2012 there were over 3,000 new malware threats a day targeting Android devices. Mobile devices are also deficient in other security aspects, such as authentication, access control, configuration and patch management, and logging. Common security weaknesses on devices can add up to a huge back-step in the overall security posture of a business.

Can’t control what you don’t own: When corporate-owned devices ruled supreme and the office was where employees connected to IT resources, IT wielded end-to-end control of the IT infrastructure. All traffic flowed across the company network and all devices were configured and controlled by IT, so employees could not download random software. Fast forward to today: as more employees are mobile and “off net” and using their own devices, this mode of complete device “lock-down” and “office-only access” no longer works. Without network and device visibility and control, IT organizations are reeling with a growing number of user-related support issues.

Every new challenge is met with a myriad of potential solutions, and dealing with the consequences of WWW is no exception. One approach is to re-implement the PC lock-down mentality on mobile devices. These solutions put software on the employee’s personal devices and exert company control. While effective at securing business apps and data, they are expensive for SMBs and meet employee pushback. Other solutions have emerged, but they either force a single set of company policies to be applied to all activities, or they only secure web traffic and not network traffic.

One of the reasons why many emerging solutions in the WWW era are falling short in the loss of IT visibility and control for mobile is that they are trying to solve the problem on the device—the same way it has been done for eons in traditional IT environments. What’s needed is an entirely new approach to delivering the network services IT needs. The answer lies in cloud networking, the latest advancement in the cloud revolution.

The convergence of cloud infrastructure with Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is enabling businesses to deploy a cloud-based network to meet the needs of the WWW generation. Cloud networking provides a cloud-based VPN that provides LAN-like connectivity to users anywhere and on any device; just like they’re in the office.  This new paradigm in business networking goes beyond connectivity to include the virtualizing and “cloudification” of network services that have historically been appliance or device-based. Now the security, visibility and control that IT needs can protect and support WWW employees when they access IT resources can be deployed and managed in a cloud network. Once they shift into their personal persona, they can access the internet directly through the cloud network with the security of a fully encrypted connection but without company oversight—providing the best of both worlds.

 

Todd Krautkremer is VP Marketing at Pertino

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Todd Krautkremer

As VP of Marketing, Pertino marks Todd Krautkremer’s fifth startup. Experience includes Packeteer VP of Worldwide Marketing, Gearworks CEO and Red Lambda COO as well as AT&T and Siemens. He thrives on building new market opportunities and speaks networking, security, SaaS, cloud, mobile, Big Data, carriers, and a little Russian.

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