For many years -really, the past two decades- trying to design and implement a large-scale network was a herculean task. It required a high degree of expertise to create in the first place, as well as constant monitoring and oversight from the IT engineer and other staff.
The problem is, this just doesn't work for many newer businesses looking to grow. It's no secret that there's a lack of high-level IT expertise in the industry, especially for systems security. Many growing SMBs and other budget-conscious organizations simply cannot afford the pricetag that real networking expertise demands. This either inhibits their growth or (arguably worse) forces them to patch together a piecemeal ad-hoc network which will never be sufficiently stable or secure.
The good news is, this situation is rapidly changing! Many new innovations, from multiple brands and carriers, are making it possible for newcomers to manage even large-scale networks with relatively little training. If you've been avoiding investments in better enterprise-grade networking hardware specifically because you lack dedicated expertise, these changes make it so that nearly anyone can be an IT engineer.
Major User-Friendly Technologies Coming To Modern Networking
1 - Decentralized networking architectures
Practically since the dawn of networking, in the 1960s, networks have relied on a single central computer -called the controller- to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of managing the network and processing packets. This one computer required extensive expertise to set up and maintain.
New architectures from brands such as Meraki and ADTRAN, however, are ditching the controller entirely. Their hardware can "see" every other piece of hardware on the network, and work with it directly rather than going through a central controller. Such "smart" systems are inherently easier to manage, as well as bringing other benefits...
One of the most obvious benefits of a decentralized network is that individual devices generally require far less individual setup. One byproduct of the "smart" awareness each device has for the others is that they share common settings, such as permissions and security. So, when a new device is added to the network, it simply uses the same configuration as everything else.
In many cases, installing a new piece of hardware today is truly as simple as plugging it in, then registering its serial number. All other configuration happens automatically.
3 - Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
SDN is another key component to this new paradigm of network design. For network hardware to have a high level of "smart" awareness, they need to be linked by common software systems which are shared across the network. These are generally either cloud-based, or use a local virtualized network space all devices access.
SDN is a relatively new technology, with a lot of promise. As it evolves, you can expect to see greater compatibility between network brands, and more options in low-cost hardware for tight budgets.
4 - Single-console management
The other big benefit from SDN and other virtualized systems is that it centralizes your IT engineer's control over the network. Rather than requiring esoteric knowledge of Unix-based command line interfaces, and having to individually configure devices, IT managers can use a single user-friendly GUI to oversee the entire network.
Basically, they merely have to set the "high level" rules for the network -things like users and bandwidth priorities- while the network does all the rest for them. Even better, these interfaces can generally be accessed from any device, making go-anywhere networking management a reality.
It's an exciting time for networking, and the best time yet for newcomers to embrace better networks. Contact Hummingbird Networks for more information!