Gigabit Internet is Coming - How Will You Make the Most of IT?
July 13, 2017

Steve Brown
Viavi Solutions

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As recently discussed in a blog on APMdigest, gigabit internet deployments are picking up speed (no pun intended) as they make their way to businesses and consumers around the globe. In the past year alone, deployments have risen at a rate of 72 percent as tracked by the Gigabit Monitor, bringing access to gigabit internet to more than 219 million people worldwide. This is good news for enterprises of all kinds.

Gigabit speeds and new technologies are driving new capabilities and even more opportunities to innovate and differentiate. Faster compute, new applications and more storage are all working together to enable greater efficiency and greater power. Yet with opportunity comes complexity.

Network traffic growth continues to defy expectations, and enterprise IT departments are faced with the task of meeting the demand for bandwidth. More than just the volume of traffic, however, there is an evolving mix of data traffic — including encrypted video which is expected to account for more than 65 percent of all business network traffic by 2020, according to Cisco's Visual Networking Index. And when you factor in hybrid cloud environments and the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT), it's no wonder that managing networks and applications is more complex than ever.

So how should businesses prepare for gigabit internet to make sure they are realizing its full potential? And what can IT teams do to meet end-user expectations when migrating to higher speed networks?

Full Speed Ahead

The key to successful migration to gigabit is preparation. Higher speeds mean more data throughput, which puts more strain on your network. Opening the internet floodgates without a strategic plan could compromise the health and performance of your workloads, not to mention the security of your entire network.

First, be sure to evaluate the condition of your network infrastructure to determine if it's robust enough to handle increased workloads. Here are four critical questions to assess your network preparedness:

1. Have you benchmarked normal bandwidth demand and application response times for the organization?

2. Are you monitoring bandwidth demand changes over time from users and applications?

3. Do you have sufficient excess capacity to support the demands of virtual and underlying physical environments?

4. Is the operating software up-to-date with the latest revisions?

Based upon answers to the above questions, you may need to adjust conditions that you're tracking or make upgrades in your IT infrastructure to ensure it is up to the task.

Second, take a close look at the state of your security defenses. As network users consume more data, your exposure to viruses, ransomware and DDoS attacks will increase proportionately. How well does your intrusion-detection system (IDS) handle encrypted data traffic? Do you have sufficient protection in place against cyberattacks, including all the latest patches and updates? It may seem obvious, but often it's the little things that are overlooked.

Third, keep a watchful eye on your network with the latest monitoring tools. Most legacy monitoring and management systems measure latency from an end user's perspective to the applicable web service, but not all issues will be immediately apparent to users. Others simply report uptime and availability of a physical piece of infrastructure.

Yet, in order to see how applications and related services are really performing, it's important to maintain comprehensive visibility and control of network infrastructure. This real-time visibility allows IT teams to recognize unusual traffic behavior or anomalies much more quickly to head off serious performance issues or security threats. Moreover, the ability to correlate data metrics in intelligent ways can even foreshadow risks that a critical service will begin to face in the coming hours, days or weeks.

And finally, just because your enterprise network migrates to higher speeds, you can't throw service level agreements (SLAs) out the window. Access to gigabit internet speeds, coupled with the proliferation of business applications based on the storage and compute power of the cloud, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, is driving even greater demand. Your IT team still needs to troubleshoot performance and manage quality of experience for these burgeoning workloads, so be sure to factor this growth into the SLA.

Moving forward, the transformative power of high-speed internet is powering an explosion in disruptive innovation and business applications. With the right strategy and preparation, you can take full advantage of the potential that gigabit access has to offer, while preventing harmful impact on the day-to-day running of your business network.

Steve Brown is Director of Enterprise Solutions at Viavi Solutions
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