Why "Scaling Up" Your Network Infrastructure Always Leads to More Complexity and Cost - Part 1
March 18, 2019

Alastair Hartrup
Network Critical

Share this

IT departments are increasingly focused on major technological innovations that ultimately require frequent network infrastructure upgrades. Just look at the growing prominence of IoT, edge computing and software-defined networks. But according to Enterprise Management Associates, navigating the complexity of network architecture and attempting to scale or expand infrastructure are two of the top challenges for businesses when dealing with their networks. The problem: when networks aren't built to scale, emerging technologies end up out-pacing current network capacities, adding unnecessary cost and complexity.

Network Packet Brokers play a critical role in gaining visibility into these new complex networks. They deliver the packet data and information IT and security teams need to identify problems, recognize security issues, and ensure overall network performance. However, not all Packet Brokers are created equal when it comes to scalability. Simply "scaling up" your network infrastructure at every growth point is a more complex and more expensive endeavor over time — cutting into business profitability and productivity. Instead, building network architectures that can "scale out" — quickly adding ports, changing speeds or capabilities — is often a better approach.

Let's explore three ways the "scale up" approach to infrastructure growth impedes NetOps and security professionals (and the business as a whole). Based on these shortcomings, we can then dive into the benefits of scale-out visibility, which can help organizations grow when new technology initiatives alter network requirements.

1. Hardware Investments

When it comes to network infrastructure (including Packet Brokers), the "scale up" approach for hardware often includes buying a big box solution with a bazillion ports. Those ports get used as needed (which often translates to just a small fraction of them), while the unused ports sit idle for "future use" — a simple but wasteful growth solution. With networks growing at a faster rate than budgets these days, investing in idle-assets is often sub-optimal.

The other "scale up" approach is to purchase only the unit that matches today's exact needs, and then when required, decommission the existing unit and buy the next model up. Vendors like to promote the "product family" idea as scaling up. For example, if you purchase the X-1 now, you can later purchase the X-2, X-3, X-4 when you need more ports or power. This family scaling certainly can keep the customer loyal to a vendor by providing a simple upgrade path with familiar operation and management, but it's also wasteful as the smaller product is usually replaced well before the end of its useful life.

For many organizations, a better approach is to "scale out." Buy a smaller base unit that meets your immediate needs and build incrementally as you grow. This includes purchasing a right-sized base unit for initial requirements (call it the "mothership" appliance), then transparently adding on to the initial purchase as growth requires with modules that easily integrate (and leverage the intelligence of the "mothership" unit). This approach protects budget disciplined teams, while still providing a path for seamless (and less disruptive) growth in the future. The IT stakeholder no longer has to pay for something it might use in the future or purchase expensive new appliances along the way.

Read Why "Scaling Up" Your Network Infrastructure Always Leads to More Complexity and Cost - Part 2

Alastair Hartrup is CEO of Network Critical
Share this

The Latest

June 13, 2019

Establishing a digital business is top-of-mind, even more so than last year, as 91% of organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first strategy, according to IDG Communications Digital Business Research ...

June 12, 2019

If digital transformation is to succeed at the pace enterprises demand, IT teams, the CIOs who lead them, and the boardroom must forge a far greater alignment than presently exists. That is the over-arching sentiment expressed by IT professionals in a recent survey on the state of IT infrastructure and roadblocks to digital success ...

June 11, 2019

Given the incredible amount of traffic traversing corporate WANs, it's not surprising that businesses are seeing performance issues. If anything, it's amazing applications work as well as they do ...

June 10, 2019

Are your business applications sluggish? Choppy? Prone to getting hung up or crashing at the most inopportune times? If these symptoms sound familiar, you might be suffering from the heartache of … poor application performance. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar ...

June 06, 2019
AIOps Exchange, a not-for-profit private forum defining the future of AIOps, published <span style="font-style: italic;">The AIOps Manifesto</span> discussing the role of AI in supporting digital transformation ...