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By Elka Popova, Vice President and Senior Fellow, Connected Work and Digital Experience @ Frost & Sullivan

If you have been following along on this guest blog series about Frost & Sullivan’s Modern LAN principles, I hope you’ve come to some of the same conclusions that my colleagues and I have reached: Today’s local area network is a vastly different environment than the PC-centric one of only a couple of years ago. A different environment requires not only a new way of thinking about network design but also a new toolbox of solutions to support an increasingly diverse set of network endpoints.

Each of the previous blog posts laid the groundwork for the need for a new set of best practices—what we call the Modern LAN principles. Modern LAN design recognizes the greater role that IoT is playing in both our businesses and our networks (Build the network around the devices you’re really using), as well as a reminder that all the work we do today should be done in a responsible and sustainable manner (Reduce, Reuse, Refocus Applies to the Network Too). In addition, Modern LAN principles break down some of the conventional wisdom when it comes to dealing with the new normal of connecting endpoints (The New Normal for Modern LANs), as well as a bit of a return to an older way of thinking about physical networks, suggesting that physically separate but functionally integrated IP network paths is the best approach to more efficiently manage the local area network, as well as a clever approach to dealing with ongoing and unanticipated cybersecurity threats (Why Segregating the Network Just Makes Sense).

As I helped develop the Modern LAN principles with my Frost & Sullivan colleagues, I have become convinced of two things. First, I believe that network administrators and solution architects will benefit by applying even one of these design principles in their own local area networks. Case in point: Just by leveraging the Modern LAN principle around environmental sustainability, the IT department can start to move from being the biggest producer of e-waste in the organization to a champion of sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Secondly, and most importantly, I firmly believe that the benefits of Modern LAN design actually multiply when they are applied together. Starting with an outside-in approach, administrators can begin to right-size the network to match the requirements of deployed endpoints. From there, clear opportunities to reuse existing cabling infrastructure begin to emerge, as well as the ability to start conversations about dividing these devices into physically separated but logically integrated networks. At the same time, outside-in efforts will shed needed light on what used to be considered network exceptions, bringing these increasingly common issues well into the fold of network design.

Together, the Modern LAN principles offer what network administrators need most: a highly flexible, cyber secure and agile local area network design. By prescribing to the Modern LAN principles, network architects and administrators can build networks that are environmentally conscious and better prepared for the rapidly-approaching connected future, all while putting money back in the IT budget for other projects.

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To learn more, read the whitepaper “The Modern LAN: Rethinking Network Design for the Modern Age”, available at www.themodernlan.org

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Assisted Living Center Changes the Conversation with Modern LAN Principles to Improve Their Outcome

Juniper Communities is an assisted living network dedicated to fostering active bodies, engaged minds and fulfilled spirits for their residents. However, communication was hard work for staff as the organization was relying on an outdated and unreliable PBX phone system. To continue providing industry-leading services, the organization decided it was time to modernize to a new IP communication solution.

Environmental Stewardship

Juniper Communities understands the importance of preserving our natural environment. Their Green Canopy program promotes healthier living for residents, staff and the community through various environmentally-conscious events and initiatives. Through the Green Canopy program, the organization has helped plant trees in the local community, organized fundraising events to restore fresh waterways in Florida’s coastal region, and care for gardens of flowers and vegetables every spring. Additionally, the Chatham location was one of the first retirement communities to embrace the green building movement; using LEED standards to design the facility.

As Juniper Communities planned their modernization to IP, network infrastructure became a key challenge. Traditional network design philosophy would involve ripping-and-replacing the existing voice infrastructure with new Ethernet. Along with the extremely negative environmental impacts, the organization was concerned with the long deployment times and the disruption to their residents that this would cause. Juniper Communities required an innovative solution to overcome their challenges.

Change the Conversation; Improve the Outcome

Given the customer’s needs, the reseller partner was confident in recommending Modern LAN design – and introduced the customer to the NVT Phybridge PoLRE® solution. The PoLRE switch, with SmartPathPoE™ technology, enables Modern LAN principles and allows organizations to leverage their existing infrastructure, eliminating the disruptive, time consuming and costly rip-and-replace requirement. Juniper Communities was impressed and decided to test the solution in their environment. After a few simple setup steps, the PoLRE switch transformed their existing and proven voice network into a secure and robust PoE backbone for their new IP phones. The PoLRE switch extends PoE up to 1,200ft (365m) – 4 times farther than standard PoE switches – ensuring the customer could easily connect the new IP phones exactly where they were needed. Juniper Communities was able to responsibly modernize to IP, as they were able to:

  • Prevent over 650 lbs of wiring from ending up in a landfill
  • Eliminate IDF closet requirements; reducing ongoing energy consumption
  • Maintain a physically separate point-to-point network topology for voice to enhance network security
  • Simplify their modernization to IP and eliminate disruption to staff and residents

“Our existing telecom system was aging, unreliable and becoming a huge liability”, said Don Breneman, Vice President of Risk Management and Business Operations at Juniper Communities. “As we planned the upgrade to IP, saving money while providing a high level of reliability and system management was important to our team. Luckily for us, we discovered the perfect innovation from NVT Phybridge. I would highly recommend the PoLRE solution to any organization upgrading their communication system to IP.”

A Better Return on Investment

Juniper Communities took a proactive approach to find new and better ways to support their IP modernization objectives in a financially and socially responsible manner. The organization was able to satisfy all the necessary infrastructure requirements without compromise, thanks to the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of the solution. By applying Modern LAN principles and leveraging innovative technology, Juniper Communities was able to:

  • Reduce infrastructure costs by over $100,000; significantly improving the project’s return on investment
  • Accelerate the project’s timeline and eliminate operational disruption to staff and residents
  • Reduce the project’s impact on the environment; preventing over 650 lbs of e-waste from entering a landfill
  • Build a secure and robust PoE platform for their new IP communication solution
  • Find a no-compromise solution that satisfied all the customer’s requirements

Has Your Organization Struggled to Modernize to IP?

It’s time to change the conversation and apply Modern LAN principles to improve your outcome. NVT Phybridge is partnered with the top IoT manufacturers and resellers to help more customers replicate the success of this project. Visit https://www.nvtphybridge.com/ to learn how we can help you achieve a successful modernization to IP.

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By Melanie Turek, Vice President of Research, Connected Work, Frost & Sullivan

Ask most network architects about the local area networks they manage, and they will likely regale you with a clear list of their preferred networking vendors and products for each of their environments. One thing that rarely comes up: the exceptions that lurk within every corporate LAN.

Exceptions are the one-offs, such as that IP phone on the loading dock that is just a little too far away from the nearest wiring closet to connect via standard Ethernet, or using dongles and an existing coaxial cable to plug a security camera into the network. All but the most generic of local area networks contain these dirty little secrets; the network administrators and architects I’ve spoken to will admit to them only grudgingly, with a wink and a nod.

The challenge, however, is that with the convergence of technologies on the LAN—including not only communications and security devices, but a whole fleet of IoT sensors and endpoints—the risks posed by seemingly benign one-off exceptions are all too real. That casual wink and nod could easily turn into a look of dread as more and more networked devices require non-standard equipment to work as desired—and blow up any semblance of network optimization, performance and security in the process. What’s more, administrators could find themselves dealing with scores of unique fixes, without relying on the rigorous processes that are foundational to any successful IT operation.

Helping companies deal with such exceptions is just one of several challenges Frost & Sullivan’s analyst team aimed to mitigate as we developed a new set of best practices for local area networks, which we are calling the “Modern LAN.” The solution: When it comes to dealing with exceptions, it is time to stop treating them as exceptions.

As non-traditional devices become the norm, network architects simply must come to terms with the fact that solutions such as Long-Reach Power over Ethernet (LRPoE) switches must be included as part of the approved network architecture, even if that means deploying new network design techniques and technologies. It also means being open to the possibility of including new suppliers and certifying new products as part of corporate-approved solutions. Incorporating and supporting a wider array of compatible network infrastructure gear gives both architects and the administrators in the field a fresh set of tools to deploy networks reflective of the devices that are making their way into corporate offices, shop floors and remote sites.

“Dealing with Exceptions” is just one of several design best practices incorporated in the Modern LAN. To learn more, read the whitepaper “The Modern LAN: Rethinking Network Design for the Modern Age”, available at http://themodernlan.org/ 

Learn about Modern LAN enabling PoE innovations

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