2018 New Year’s Resolutions for WAN Managers

I’d like to wish everyone a hearty Happy New Year! This is the time of year that we make promises to ourselves like saying we will get to the gym more often, lose weight, not text and drive and other things that should improve our lives or the world we live in. Many of us make these resolutions annually, but fail to keep them as they are often unrealistic or simply too hard to live up to. I’d like to offer up five New Year’s resolutions for those of you who manage your company’s wide area network. They are as follows:

  • I resolve to leverage automation. The concept of automating manual networking tasks certainly isn’t new. However, the implementation of automation has been very light to date, primarily because most skilled engineers could keep the network up and running doing things the way they’ve always been done. Also, networking professionals generally fear the concept of automation as it threatens to marginalize or eliminate their jobs. The fact is that the world we live in today is substantially different than one we lived in just a few years ago and business leaders are increasingly turning to their technical teams to better understand how technology can be used to drive the company’s strategic direction. Engineers who have their heads stuck in a command line interface aren’t learning new skills or investing time with line of business managers to be relevant and valuable in the future. The only way to effectively re-skill is to minimize time spent on manual tasks and begin harnessing the power of automation.
  • I resolve to “see more”. Many network professionals I interview are considering or in the process of re-architecting their WANs. Building a WAN for the future can’t be done effectively without having granular visibility into the applications that run across it, traffic patterns, which cloud services are being consumed and the past and expected growth rates for the near and longer term. But one can’t know this stuff without having good end-to-end visibility tools. Network managers should spend 2018 investing in platforms to help increase their ability to see what’s happening on their networks to make better informed decisions.
  • I resolve to use broadband for business connectivity. The use of broadband as an alternative to MPLS has been well documented on this site and others. However, for many network professionals, pulling the trigger on making the switch requires a huge leap of faith, not unlike procrastinating like they do with working out or eating fewer carbs. This year, I want every network manager to stop saying, “I’ll get to that later” and come to the realization that they’re wasting valuable time and money. Broadband works in a business environment and it’s time to fully embrace it.
  • I resolve to deploy WAN optimization. In my opinion, WAN optimization is the biggest no brainer that exists in networking today. Everyone complains about exploding bandwidth and poor performing applications so if I told you there was a quick and easy way to fix this, wouldn’t you take it? Well there is something that can accomplish this immediately and it’s called WAN optimization. Any organization that I’ve interviewed that has deployed it, raves about it. There’s no reason to not optimize your company’s WAN connections and it’s imperative to do so before going through a WAN redesign as it will significantly impact how much bandwidth is required.
  • I resolve to dump my routers (or at least some of them). The router has been THE mainstay foundation of every organization’s WAN for nearly three decades now. The thought of getting rid of the router may seem absolutely crazy. A decade ago, I would agree with this premise. Five years ago, it’s still probably the case. And even two years ago, I could still be convinced. However, today’s modernized WAN has many options that can provide routing without a conventional router. If you have a router coming up for refresh, do you and your company a favor and evaluate your options as you’ll likely save yourself a boatload of time and money.