How to turn your network into a strategic business asset

  • Enterprise mobility encompasses more than just the mobile device
  • How to differentiate between critical apps and those with no real business value?
How to turn your network into a strategic business assetIT comes as no surprise that organisations today are progressively leveraging mobility for business transformation.
 
Organisations can no longer ignore the proliferation of mobile devices in the workplace, not with the growing momentum of the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). In fact, Gartner notes the high device penetration in Asia Pacific, and projects that 1.2 billion units of devices will be shipped in 2015.
 
According to another study on enterprise mobility by IDC, there has been an upsurge of investments undertaken by organisations on mobility adoption – with an average of over 70% of survey respondents acknowledging the implementation of mobility initiatives by their organisations.
 
Yet, enterprise mobility encompasses more than just the mobile device. In order to provide access to data from any device, the application landscape has shifted from merely installing and maintaining traditional applications (apps), towards private and public cloud-based delivery offerings such as SalesForce.com, Google Apps, and many more.
 
With the flexibility and agility that comes about in this new application world, businesses are faced with a new set of challenges that often center on a lack of visibility and control.
 
Here, we look at how organisations can be empowered to turn the network into a strategic business asset with network analytics.
 
Making the unknown known
 
In order to support new work efficiencies on mobile devices, new apps are being developed and showing up every day. However, how are organisations able to differentiate between which apps are truly critical and those that have no real business value?
 
By deploying analytical capabilities in the network, the seemingly unrelated and detailed information can be transformed, to give meaningful, business-relevant intelligence.
 
Additionally, to ensure that investments are being fully maximised, network analytics can facilitate the understanding on the adoption and usage of apps in the organisation.
 
Having the right information about apps in the network – where users go first, how long they stay, what apps are being used, what websites they visit and at what times of the day – is essential.
 
With access to information about application usage by device type and the flow of users, organisations stand to benefit from being able to make more informed decisions that provide value to all lines of the business.
 
Optimising the network
How to turn your network into a strategic business asset
Mobile users will demand immediate access to all of their apps. To maximise the end-user experience, organisations must make sure that apps can be seamlessly delivered from the cloud – private or public – to those users and devices.
 
Organisations looking to optimise the network and server infrastructure need to have visibility into application usage. Apart from better supporting bandwidth-intensive apps, it can also enable the enhancement of user productivity, as well as streamline troubleshooting.
 
Network bandwidth can be freed up for other apps by having visibility over the usage patterns of apps. With information on which apps are being deployed based on location and time periods, network bandwidth can be altered to support peak usage periods.
 
By harnessing data in the network, performance is optimised with quicker application response times for users, reduced service operations, and higher user productivity.
 
When issues with performance are reported, it is often difficult to determine if the issue lies with the network, application, client or server.
 
Insights into the network can not only pinpoint the error but also determine the network response time. A network must not simply pass packets at a high speed, but must also give visibility and control.
 
Ensuring peace of mind
How to turn your network into a strategic business asset
With apps and websites being so easily accessible to users – including those not administered by the organisation – there is a need to discern whether or not the apps being deployed in the network meet security requirements.
 
Organisations will want to understand if the right products are being supported and safeguarded. This can be achieved by understanding what apps are in operation and how they are being utilised, through network analytics.
 
While not all unapproved apps will pose a security risk, visibility on them will help the organisation keep a check should they need to determine why they are being used.
 
This allows not only the proactive identification of potential security risks, but it also helps to analyse whether the approved applications are meeting the needs of the business, in contrast to unapproved applications.
 
We can no longer disregard the fact that data is everywhere – it is present even in the network. Organisations just need to enable themselves to mine this data to deliver meaningful intelligence about applications, users, locations and devices.
 
When the network infrastructure answers these questions, it becomes a strategic business asset.
 
Wilson Lai is technical director, Asia-Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks.
 
Related Stories:
 
Enterprise mobile developers stuck in old mindset: Analyst
 
Beware ‘street BYOD,’ say Gartner analysts
 
Software-defined networking: Taking the right path
 
 
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