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/