Posts

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.

Download the Whitepaper

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

Follow us on Social Media

By Roopashree Honnachari, Industry Director for Business Communication Services & Cloud Computing at Frost & Sullivan

In our ongoing research here are Frost & Sullivan, we tend to think about Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) in terms of watershed moments: The two standards came together to replace the disparate networks businesses once relied on to enable communications and data transfer. Before Ethernet and IP, the communications network (phones connected to a central call control unit or PBX), the security network (cameras and access control connected to a dedicated system) and the data network were delivered over their own dedicated infrastructure and cabling. Ethernet and IP offered the promise of a single network on which all systems can interoperate, while also delivering the economies of scale that come with a shared infrastructure.

Unfortunately, several unintended consequences have taken some of the shine off the idea of an integrated network. Rather than serving as a beacon of interoperability, today’s business networks can quickly add to the workload and stress of network administrators. Each of the once-discrete networks comes with its own unique set of requirements, which are often at odds with one another. In dealing with conflicts, many admins find themselves tweaking and readjusting network settings or creating a complex set of virtual LAN (vLAN) policies. As the name suggests, the vLAN approach divides the physical network into a series of logical ones; it’s an administrator-intensive effort, devices often land in the wrong place, slowing performance, as well as increasing costs and network complexity.

In addition, ongoing cyber threats to the entire network remain, meaning that rogue apps, malware or denial of service attacks have the potential to take down not only PCs and business applications but also critical security and communications devices. Likewise, with more and more IoT endpoints connected to the network, new attack vectors are available to hackers to disrupt all of a business’ connected devices.

As Frost & Sullivan analysts across several research practices came together to develop a new set of best practices for local area networks, we factored both ongoing security threats as well as network simplification into what we call the “Modern LAN principles.” To address both the opportunity and challenges of network convergence, we included this recommendation:

When possible, construct physically separate but functionally integrated IP network paths for different and dedicated applications, ensuring mission-critical platforms are not impacted by disruptions or intrusions of the primary business network. By doing so, organizations have the option to create separate networks or connect them on site or in the cloud with a single cable.

So, what does a “physically separate but functionally integrated” network look like? In the diagram below, you will notice that the IP camera and IPTV in the upper right corner are physically separated from the PC network in the center and the IoT sensors on the left. This has two advantages. First, management of the throughput, power and configuration needs of the camera can be managed separately from the PC network, largely eliminating the need for vLAN configurations. Second, in the event of a cyber attack on the IoT or PC network, the security network is protected by its own firewall. And if a rapid response is needed, it can be unplugged from the rest of the network and operated independently. The PC and IoT networks can also operate in an independent but integrated fashion as needed.

“Physically separate but functionally integrated” 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 https://go.frost.com/Lan

Learn more about Modern LAN enabling technology

Learn more at http://themodernlan.org/

Follow us on Social Media