Both the consumerisation of IT and networks at large are introducing changes and challenges to the industry. Ryan Noik spoke to Dell’s Florian Malecki and Brad Pulford to find out more.
In technology, much as in life, it seems like everything has both its positive and negative side. Enterprise users are apparently not exempt from this phenomenon, with trends, such as the consumerisation of IT, bringing both benefits and disadvantages.
Florian Malecki, Dell’s Product and Solutions director for EMEA, explained that the consumerisation of IT, which includes social media, mobility and BYOD trends, can have a particular impact on a company’s security. For example, workers may well use their own mobile device to access their work information data. However, should this device be lost or stolen without having the right security solution in place, companies could find themselves having a security breach. Moreover, he pointed out that hackers tend to be smart people who are after money, and thus tend to target platforms that are the most prevalent at the time. What this means is that both Android and iOS devices are becoming popular not just with users, but with cybercriminals as well. While the network is still a popular target for attack, Malecki further noted that in the last few years there had been an increasing number of attacks on the application layer as well.
Don’t be latent
However Malecki believes that network vulnerabilities, at least, can be addressed, most particularly by employing next-generation firewalls. He explained that Dell’s SonicWall offering differentiates itself in this regard by offering reassembly and deep packet inspection (DPI) using multicore architecture. He elaborated that this enables the product to inspect web traffic on the fly, without introducing network latency. This he stressed was “very important”, particularly for businesses providing access to online training. If an existing firewall introduced latency, this would cause voice and video issues and result in a poor quality of service.
This DPI enables companies to have their firewall inspect every bit of data coming into or leaving the network and report in real time what exactly is happening on the network, and instantly ascertain whether a slowdown is a result of someone watching a YouTube video, downloading an application or, more seriously, due to the malignant effects of a piece of malware.
However, consumerisation of IT isn’t the only force having an exciting, if challenging impact on IT. The very critical IT arena of networking is similarly undergoing its own changes and bringing some exciting developments. Interestingly enough, both shifts appear to be intricately connected to one another. Indeed, according to Brad Pulford, the enterprise lead at Dell South Africa, of the several issues that are most prevalent and pertinent to networking at the moment, he identified security and resource management as being issues that one could say were joined at the hip. He elaborated that security as it relates to a business’s physical data was becoming extremely top of mind for many of Dell’s customers, based on the proliferation of cybercrime.
Additionally, Pulford added that other top issues facing IT in general included connected devices, virtualisation and the efforts to improve efficiencies, cloud and big data. With regards to the latter, he believes the term is largely misunderstood, with too many addressing it as an issue of capacity, rather than that of generating insights from data. “However, at the core of all those issues, is networking, with connected devices, virtualisation, and cloud services all reliant on an efficient network.”
“At the core of all those issues, is networking, with connected devices, virtualisation, and cloud services all reliant on an efficient network.”
Power and influence
Pulford identified three influences on the all-important network, with the first of these being a demand for convergence, with customers seeking solutions that address multiple issues. He explained that in Dell’s mind, convergence was all about server, network and storage coming together. Secondly, another force shaping network’s change and growth was the influence of the application becoming more relevant, with the power moving away from the physical hardware to the application software – also known as Software Defined Networking (SDN). This means that instead of having to physically attend to a network on a site, problems could be often identified from a centralised remote point and then repaired very quickly, provided it wasn’t a hardware issue.
Finally, the third force driving changes in networking was distributed networking, which he explained entailed taking the whole infrastructure and distributing the power of that infrastructure across the entire network as opposed to leaving it in one central point.
In a nutshell, distributed networking, Pulford elaborated, creates more tiers of networking, enabling users to have a 1 GB, 10 GB and 40 GB layer, which would enable the optimisation of performance across the network. The 40 GB layer could be then shifted to whenever better speeds are required. This, enthused Pulford, means that customers would be able to manage their environment very efficiently.
With this in mind, Pulford explained that Dell had adopted a Virtual Network Architecture (VNA) approach, with virtualisation – and the benefits it can bring – shifting into the network arena as well.
“Customers don’t want a different management platform for their network as what they have for their storage platform and their server environment.”
To the point
With regards to how this affects businesses on a grassroots, nuts and bolts (or rands and cents) kind of way, Pulford explained that this all means business’s IT infrastructure can be unified, simplistic and easy to manage and control, rather than fragmented.
Indeed, he echoed a message that Dell has been punting for quite some time, namely addressing complexity. “Customers don’t want a different management platform for their network as what they have for their storage platform and their server environment. They want one simple console approach to be able to control their entire infrastructure.” Secondly, he asserted that customers want a unified approach that would allow for their network, storage and server infrastructure to be closely knit in terms of performance enhancement. “The bottom line is that when that convergence starts happening, it drives a huge amount of cost out of our customer’s IT environment, while simultaneously driving greater efficiency in,” he stressed.
In a global economy where many businesses are still feeling their fair share of economic pressure, it’s this particular financial or cost savings benefit, amongst the myriad of IT challenges, changes and opportunities, that might just be the most important factor of them all.