What exactly is a Modern Network?

So, let’s recap the last few years. All the people moved, all the workloads moved, but we left the network the same.

In this blog post, we will cover some of the key trends that are impacting how networks are evolving, and how organisations can take advantage of these shifts to deliver more robust, more secure, and more flexible services to their customers and employees.

Ubiquitous Connectivity

Australia has seen an explosion in network infrastructure investment by national and regional providers that has driven rapid growth in the availability of broadband services across the country. The Australian government is also increasing investment above and beyond current NBN commitments with the federal government providing $750 million to boost regional internet speeds and State governments also investing to bring faster and more reliable digital network to rural and regional areas, capitalising on the move out of cities back to regions. Private Fixed Wireless, 5G, and modern satellite services are also continuing to rollout at pace.

What does all this investment mean? As a service provider, it means we have more flexibility than ever when it comes to designing networking and connectivity solutions for our clients. We can look at a broad mix of technologies that can be combined to meet operational and budget considerations with the modern services above, alongside traditional technical platforms such as MPLS, NBN, dark fibre, metro ethernet, 4G and public internet services.

The Modern Network

The impact of Cloud
The Rise of SASE (and Secure by Default)
All traffic is not created equal

The impact of Cloud

The flow on effect of broad migration to the cloud has been a dramatic change in network traffic patterns. As workloads moved from on premises and co-location facilities to new cloud environments (private and public), corporate networks that were designed to handle large volumes of internal LAN traffic needed to be redesigned to accommodate growing access to external applications, storage, and services. This change also brought with it a shift in how we think about network security. When most of the traffic is within a corporate network, security has traditionally been considered a perimeter issue.  As traffic increasingly reaches out of those traditional corporate borders into public ‘as-a-service’ environments, previous networking approaches simply don’t work, and we have seen a trend of declining MPLS utilisation and increasing use of public internet connectivity in recent years.

We now live in a complex, hybrid, public cloud, EDGE, SaaS world, where employees work from anywhere and need secure access to all their data and applications, all the time.

The Rise of SASE (and Secure by Default)

The switch to hybrid working is also driving rapid adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions. SASE solutions are cloud-delivered services that combine network and security functions with WAN capabilities. The key advantages of SASE solutions are that they extend networking and security capabilities including firewall as a service, secure web gateway and zero-trust network access (ZTNA) beyond where they are typically available.

Through CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker), users can be connected to both traditional datacentre resources and cloud services, with dynamic access requirements based on the trust of user, device, and location. A modern SD-WAN architecture such as VMware SD-WAN can take advantage of the universally available internet access to provide robust WAN services, with management capabilities surpassing legacy WAN systems; all at lower cost and while introducing East-West firewall and traffic routing capabilities intrinsically to the platform.

All traffic is not created equal

The rise in cloud and SaaS applications has also driven a need to better understand what traffic is on the network (in the industry referred to as deep packet inspection). As Zero Trust and SASE become the benchmark, we need to recognise what traffic is being carried on the network, assess how secure it is, and to look for patterns and threats. Through this data-driven approach, we can understand exactly what traffic is traversing our networks and be able to secure systems, sites, and users appropriately.

We also need the flexibility to dynamically route traffic based on cost factors and link failures. These driving forces are the problems Software Defined networking sets out to resolve. Applying a rich set of software services such as SD-WAN edge & VMWare NSX as a core architecture allows more flexibility in network design and the ability to prioritise based on business need. For instance, with the rise of hybrid working, networks have seen a significant increase in video traffic driven by Collaboration and Video conferencing platforms and there is now an urgent need to be able to prioritise data at an application level (Microsoft Teams vs. YouTube for example). SD-WAN and NSX can do this, and more.

The Tecala way

We at Tecala are big believers in software defined networking; having invested heavily in both staff and systems we can provide powerful control planes (and reporting data) across every facet of the IT landscape; from endpoint, WAN, and within the datacentre itself, there are insights to be gained and benefits to be realised.


In summary

Modern networks need to be flexible and secure by design, cater for a mix of technologies, provide the ability to dynamically adapt to changing traffic and resiliency needs and ultimately ensure safe, fast access to applications, services, and data. Far beyond simple cables and switches, modern networks constitute every transit point between a mobile endpoint and the services they consume.

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