In an organization or any business environment, devices and applications, including software and hardware, need to be in constant communication to facilitate meetings, calls, emails, messaging, and all sorts of office communications between the staff. And to perform at their best, businesses need high-speed and reliable networks to enable smooth operations and optimal uptime.
These can only be made possible with an optimized IT infrastructure, denoted by enterprise networks. But there is more, and in this piece, we explore the concept of enterprise networks and how crucial they are in helping businesses run highly reliable and secure networking systems.
What is an Enterprise Network?
The enterprise network, also known as the corporate network, is the foundation and chief support of all communications in an organization. It facilitates seamless file and resource sharing between different departments and teams in an organization.
An enterprise network is set up by establishing a secure connection between computers and various devices across different departments in an enterprise to ensure a consolidated and integrated network that reduces communication protocol, thus improving data management, interoperability, and workflow.
Why is Enterprise Network Important, and What it Means for Your Business?
By providing a secure connection between computers and devices in an organization, enterprise networks eliminate isolated users or teams and ensure secure and seamless data transfer and communications internally and externally with employees, business partners, and customers.
This consolidated network formed by an enterprise is probably its most useful application in businesses. Enterprise networks are basically developed to facilitate device interoperability and seamless communications, since it securely links all systems including a wide range of devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, printers, etc.) with varied operating systems such as Windows, Apple, Linux, Android, etc.
Enterprise Networking Structure
A typical enterprise network is built with inexpensive hardware; usually many Ethernet systems are interconnected by network devices (repeaters, bridges, routers, switches, firewall, wireless access points, etc.). Unfortunately, this inexpensive construction also has a limited configuration, and performance tends to depreciate as the network size increases.
The modern structure of an enterprise network utilizes high-speed switching and routing devices that facilitate communications between computers, servers, applications, and devices. It consists of security and network platforms that enable routing, switching, fire-walling, Wi-Fi and eliminates isolated systems.
Types of Enterprise Networking Solutions
Since the enterprise network establishes a secure connection between devices for the purpose of safe and secure information sharing, it can be as simple as linking two devices using Ethernet cables and adapters or as complex as wirelessly connecting thousands of devices. There are different types of enterprise networks, and we describe the three most common types below.
A local area network, or LAN, is a network of computers and devices at a single site or a small geographic area, which can be an office building, a school, a college campus, or home. This connection can be simple, linking two computers, or complex, connecting hundreds and thousands of computers and devices.
A LAN network is basically built with very affordable hardware (such as Ethernet cables, network adapters, routers, computers) for a wired connection. A simple local area network will allow sharing data, files, and information between connected devices, and these connected devices also share an internet connection.
Local area networks usually rely on a wired connection for a faster and higher internet speed; however, they can also be entirely wireless with the help of central Wi-Fi and in this case they are referred to as WLAN (wireless local area network). We often see LAN or WLAN connections in-home or personal Wi-Fi, office networks, and public networks.
A WAN (wide area network) connection provides a much larger coverage than local area networks. Wide area networks are not restricted to any particular location or geographic area; they can stretch across countries, continents, and the entire world. WAN connections are the most sophisticated and expensive computer networks; they are usually owned by service providers who lease their network to the public.
A WAN can be established by connecting several smaller networks, such as local area and metropolitan area networks. Big businesses and international organizations with several office buildings and branches with their individual local area networks can connect these separate LANs using a WAN.
An established WAN will facilitate data and information sharing over large distances. It’s essentially borderless, and the internet itself is considered a WAN. Other examples of wide-area networks are virtual private networks (VPN) and mobile broadband connections, including 3G network, 4G network, and the most recent 5G network.
SD-WAN, a software-defined wide area network, is a virtual or cloud-based WAN configured and managed using software programs. A software-defined wide area network is a virtual WAN architecture that is software-driven and basically achieved by applying software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to traditional WAN connections.
This enables much better and secure connections while eliminating the need for hardware monitoring of antiquated computer networks. SD-WAN offers more flexibility than traditional WAN, with improved bandwidth efficiency, business productivity, and lower IT costs. It delivers better network connectivity at significantly lower costs without compromising security and data privacy.
The flexibility of software-driven WAN makes it perfectly suitable for meeting the ever-changing IT challenges. It’s essentially a simplification and simultaneous optimization of WAN connections, with easier integration and adoption for quick tackling of new challenges and meet changing needs.
Benefits of an Optimized Enterprise Network System for Businesses
In this digital age, the importance of having a secure and fast connection at all times cannot be over-emphasized, and the cost of unreliable network and IT downtime is becoming increasingly detrimental. A research study from Gartner revealed that the approximate cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute.
On the low end, this can add up to $140,000 per hour ($300,000 per hour on average), and on the high end, it can be as much as $540,000 per hour.
Optimizing your enterprise environment ensures your business operates at its best. With a secure and reliable IT infrastructure, your company will enjoy the full benefits of the tech ecosystem for rapid business growth. Some of these benefits include.
Drive Efficiency and Productivity
An optimized and robust IT infrastructure immensely contributes to the efficiency and productivity of the various departments in an enterprise. By ensuring the seamless transfer of information and encouraging efficient and faster communications, it directly contributes to how efficiently employees work and timely completion of projects.
An optimized enterprise network will also ensure better customer relationships by improving communications speed, including website functionality, online purchases, and interactive customer experience.
Enterprise network optimization is very instrumental in the early detection of cyberattacks and security threats. With a sophisticated network, a breach in security can be detected in a relatively short time to prevent any significant data compromise.
In addition to this, network optimization also prevents data tampering in the event of any damage to hardware or cyberattacks, which aids in better disaster management and quick recovery. For even better monitoring and protection, large organizations are working towards real-time detection and response to security threats and attacks.
Reduce IT Downtime
IT downtime, failures, and outages are expensive, and they cost businesses a lot of money. With every downtime or failure, businesses lose significant amounts of money, and these unpleasant episodes will be more frequent in a business that has an outdated and less efficient IT infrastructure.
A business can experience a tremendous surge in productivity and save much more simply by optimizing the cloud-based IT infrastructure. With a robust and optimized network comes faster speed and a higher level of network availability, resulting in less frequent downtime and eliminating employees’ frustration while simultaneously improving productivity.
An optimized IT infrastructure directly translates to lower costs because it significantly reduces costs for software, hardware, operations, services, and maintenance. A cloud-based IT infrastructure allows for seamless device interoperability, streamlined business processes, efficient data transfer, and handling.
Although network optimization is important for any type of business, it may be easier for large organizations to take advantage of it. However, it’s incredibly important for small businesses to optimize their networks because it will help them cut costs, manage revenue more efficiently while also delivering high-quality services.
New Trends for Enterprise Networking in 2023
With more flexibility, improved performance, and stronger security, SD-WAN has quickly become the default WAN technology, and we expect to see more adoptions and migration to SD-WAN from the traditional enterprise-wide area network technology. SD-WAN does not require public lines, and it takes advantage of the public internet to drive down costs further.
Adopting this technology increases network bandwidth, reduces latency, and improves network scalability by optimizing already existing IT infrastructure. Also, organizations that have already adopted the technology will focus on making the most of its vast capabilities by utilizing Virtual Network Functions and Universal Customer Premises Equipment for application rationalization.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture is a simplification of the wide-area network for remote work with an added layer of security. It relies on cloud-based applications and data to deliver a secure network directly to connected devices.
As a network architecture, SASE combines VPN and SD-WAN capabilities with a cloud-native network platform to deliver robust security, improved efficiency, and appropriate bandwidth per application.
The SASE architecture eliminates latency due to backhauling and provides a consistently fast and secure connection. Among the many advantages of SASE are mobile access, global reach, centralized management, and flexibility, including the ability to either scale up or down for efficient usage.
SASE has rapidly been embraced by many enterprises, and recent projections have estimated a CAGR of 116% and a market value of over $5B by 2024.
Another notable trend is the use of software to automate and efficiently manage complex networks in order to facilitate optimal performance. Automated networks are increasingly being adopted by large organizations for the purpose of improving efficiency and lowering operating costs.
With the rapid global digitalization, manual network management has become even more inefficient, with problems ranging from human or configuration errors to inconsistencies and IT downtime.
By utilizing artificial intelligence, machine learning, and machine reasoning for network management, businesses will experience all-around network efficiency and functionality, with the option for central or remote management.
Better Networks and Faster Speed
The latest network technologies, Wi-Fi-6 and 5G aim to provide wireless access for businesses with support for higher bandwidth and more users per access point. These new generation wireless options are poised to deliver fast speed comparable to wired connectivity.
With a maximum wireless speed of 9.6 Gbps of throughput, which is about 30% faster than Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 enables seamless flow of data through wireless routers and support for more connected devices and users without compromising performance. Both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are gaining traction and will see more adoptions in 2023 and beyond.
Finding the Right Enterprise Networking Company
Choosing the right enterprise network vendor for your business can be daunting because the market is littered with tons of vendors competing for a chunk. However, it’s quite possible and incredibly important that you find a vendor that takes your business seriously, with streamlined products and solutions that accurately matches your needs. Here are a few things to consider in your search for the right vendor.
Flexibility and Agility: flexibility is a very important feature of enterprise network vendors because, ideally, they should be able to handle different types of projects in various locations. When a vendor has an existing infrastructure to tackle the specific needs of your business, it guarantees a higher level of success.
Service packages: another important factor to consider is the service packages of different vendors, any available product warranties, their strong suit, and areas where they perform below average. It’s also imperative that you carefully go through reviews from vendor’s previous clients to determine how well they are likely to perform.
Reputation and technical expertise: an enterprise network vendor should be able to offer timely technical support when the need arises. It’s important that you find out how efficient their pre-sales and post-sales support is. It’s also important that you have a defined point of contact who is easily accessible and ready to jump into action.
Partnership and financial stability: it may seem unimportant to consider how long an enterprise network vendor has been around, but it actually is. Financial stability, partnership, and a strong commitment from a vendor are vital.
Cost: choosing the most expensive and high-profile vendor certainly doesn’t guarantee success, and it also is not the best for your business since you’d be working with a budget. So is going for the cheapest option. Your major objectives should be the value that vendor offers including their capabilities, efficiency, and experience.
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FAQs on Enterprise Networks
Is the Internet an enterprise network?
The internet is an example of a Wide area network, which is a type of enterprise network that connects smaller LANs across long distances with no restrictions to geographic areas. Wide area networks are largely responsible for the ability to telecommunicate and access the internet from virtually any corner of the globe. Without WAN technology, we might not have a unified internet or enjoy a global network.
What is Enterprise Network Management?
Enterprise network management is the periodic quality assessment of networks and IT systems to ensure that they are providing adequate service quality. An enterprise network management typically entails the management and maintenance of routers, switches, hubs, customer premises equipment, and connections.
Network management also comprises other aspects, including security monitoring of sensitive access points, performance management, billing and usage management, etc.
What is an enterprise private network?
This is a computer network employed by organizations with different branch offices to connect their various offices to each other in a safe and secure way. These private networks exist solely for the purpose of sharing resources and sensitive information, and they have encrypted data to ensure security and privacy.
The Enterprise network is the link that connects all devices in an enterprise. It’s basically the foundation of device interoperability and enables seamless communications in an organization. Enterprise networks are of many types, and the simplest types are the local networks, which enable connections within a particular area, and these connections are much suitable for small businesses.
For mid-sized and large businesses with branch offices that span across several countries, the wide-area network becomes the ideal technology as it provides much broader coverage.
An enterprise network design does more than linking devices, users, and applications; it also connects the entire business to the internet. It’s essentially the IT infrastructure of an organization and it facilitates smooth business operations. The entire performance and productivity of any business depend, to a large extent, on an optimized enterprise network.
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