Communications networks today are a far cry from their distant cousins from even a few years ago, having been inundated with mass amounts of traffic as a result of a combination of wireless proliferation and cloud computing, both of which have changed the network paradigm dramatically.
I spoke with Abner Germanow, director, enterprise marketing, at Juniper Networks, at Interop (News - Alert) Las Vegas, who classifies the changes networks are undergoing into three dynamic trends: how people consume applications, where those applications reside, and, within data centers, where those apps reside. Collectively, these three evolving factors are fundamentally changing the way IT groups have to approach their network infrastructures in order to maintain secure environment without inhibiting business processes.
The consumption trend started with the smartphone – specifically, the introduction of the iPhone (News - Alert) – but has been pushed to new heights by the iPad, and the growing number of tablets and smartphones hitting the market each month will only continue to increase adoption. Business leaders, in the interest of driving efficiency and productivity, want to be able to allow users to access resources and applications wherever they are, on whatever their preferred devices might be.
The challenge is creating this all-access environment for users while allowing IT to retain control of the network-based assets, including authentication and secure access, remote wipe capabilities in the instance of lost devices, and the ability to access information on multiple devices. It’s really about ensuring access to business assets based on the user, not the device.
Complicating the scenario is the growth of cloud computing. Whereas applications traditionally resided in local corporate data centers, many are now delivered via a cloud model, or even via the cloud in concert with local servers. That has changes traffic patterns from moving between device and corporate network, to running between the device and often multiple data centers.
Furthermore, the integration of applications with other apps and databases has created an increasing volume of traffic between servers and data centers, as different applications leverage each other’s capabilities to deliver complex data streams to users.
“This means IT departments have to take a new approach to their infrastructures, because much of the traffic flows between servers and data centers, not from laptop to a server and back,” explains Germanow. “They have to make sure their security policies follow network traffic wherever it goes.”
(Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) speaks with Abner Germanow at Interop)
As dominant as the mobile environment has become in business environments, enterprise IT groups often struggle with enabling mobile access and multiple user groups and devices, resulting in islands of access control that creates management issues that consume far too much of their time.
Juniper’s response to the mobile paradigm is to look at security holistically, rather than from a point perspective. Juniper’s Junos is a layered software platform, allowing applications to interact in a multi-access environment. Junos Pulse (News - Alert), a core element of the Junos platform, specifically addresses the dynamic connectivity, security, and access needs of today’s enterprise, enabling seamlessly enabling transitions from one access type to another, based on device location.
“Junos Pulse provides a common client across multiple device types,” says Germanow. “ It delivers a security architecture that addresses the need to secure connections from devices to apps, regaldess of device or location.”
In addition to performance enhancements, he says Juniper’s architecture often is a cost-efficient option, simply because it requires less equipment by driving east-west traffic patterns (server to server), as opposed to a north-south client-server model.
“We generally require a smaller footprint of gear, which means you generally pay less, because the architecture, as a whole, is built more efficiently,” he says. “It’s easier to build, manage and secure.”
Employees are bringing their own devices into enterprise environments, whether IT likes it or not – though, in many cases, it is directly supported as another cost saving initiative. The ability to drive business efficiencies while lowering CAPEX and OPEX (News - Alert) makes for an easy decision, and explains the success Juniper is seeing with its enterprise products.