Three ways networking services simplify network management
Organizations rely on networks to power their work. But managing the myriad applications and data that a business depends on is not without its challenges. That’s where networking services come in. Think of networking services—like Azure Networking Services—as technology’s orchestra conductor.
Instead of closely studying sheet music, understanding the skills of dozens of musicians, and setting the tempo during rehearsals and performances, networking services track all the data and applications a company is using on their chosen network and coordinate their traffic across cloud boundaries—even as most networks’ bandwidth and scale continue to increase, due to ever more complex rendering and compute requirements.
Networking services can ease network management in nearly every industry. That’s important because highly functioning networks are adding tremendous value to organizations. Three technology benefits illustrate this exciting promise—and showcase how networking services support them. These benefits also address concerns that are top of mind for many organizations—provisioning the growing remote workforce, making use of the data they collect, and boosting network security.
#1: Giving remote workers secure resource access
If a network is an orchestra, the performance hall is getting mighty crowded—in large part because of the swelling remote workforce. Experts predict that the remote workforce will keep growing in 2023—after reaching 25% of all professional jobs in North America at the end of 2022. Employees want flexibility to work from anywhere, while hybrid work is expanding the attack surface.
As a result, organizations must secure access to resources and satisfy increasingly complex regulations. Among the organizations that have moved to a fully remote or hybrid workforce are government agencies, which must satisfy some of the most restrictive regulations to protect sensitive data. Remote work requirements now range from traditional office productivity tools to very complex software and system requirement for applications such as media rendering and CAD.
It’s critical that remote and hybrid workers be able to access the underlying compute resources their work relies on. For many companies, these are cloud-based virtual machines, such as Azure general purpose virtual machines or specialized compute virtual machines that run on NVIDIA GPUs. With networking services, companies can use universal secure connectivity to give even their remote workforce access to their on-premises and cloud resources from anywhere.
App delivery services can ensure that those remote workers have the resources they need to complete tasks, while monitoring services give IT a comprehensive view of network resources and diagnostics, with telemetry data to keep everyone working without interruption. Other technology solutions enable employees, vendors, and partners to access internal and cloud apps.
Equipping remote workers with the right tools—including network connectivity tools and security tools—will become increasingly important because the number of mobile workers is expected to grow from 78.5 million in 2020 to 93.5 million in 2024, according to an IDC forecast. These network users—sometimes called “deskless workers”—will make up nearly 60% of the US workforce by late 2024.
All those workers need devices to connect. The number of 5G connections is predicted to rise to 1 billion worldwide by mid-2023 and 2.6 billion in 2025, according to a CCS Insight study. The demographic trend of “productivity paranoia,” where workers are eager to prove they can be productive from anywhere, also will contribute to new networks and new devices that need to be connected and secured.
Other potential remote work scenarios that could benefit from networking services include the following:
- Connected field service in manufacturing through a combination of IoT diagnostics, scheduling, asset maintenance, and inventory optimization.
- Geospatial analytics to help energy sector companies gain deeper insights around key decisions in a scalable, cost-efficient manner.
#2: Maximizing the value of edge intelligence
Edge devices—everything from car systems to temperature sensors on the manufacturing floor—are collecting more data than ever. Collecting all that data takes a strong network. Connecting all that data so you can derive business intelligence from it takes networking services.
With edge devices proliferating all the time, the challenge may seem impossible—not unlike asking a conductor to manage an orchestra in which the musicians swap instruments every few minutes. Services like Azure Traffic Manager can help by routing traffic based on priority, geography, and performance.
With networking services, companies can save money on troubleshooting issues, increase staff productivity, and meet safety and compliance requirements. In the automotive industry, for instance, networking services capabilities can lead to connected car solutions and mission-critical real-time insights.
Other popular edge intelligence use cases include gaining situational awareness of what’s happening on oil and gas offshore rigs and creating smart building solutions in real estate.
#3: Tightening security to better protect people and data
Traditional security measures have been stretched to the breaking point by increasingly sophisticated attacks. Imagine someone who dons a tuxedo so they can masquerade as an orchestra member, sneak on stage, and stomp on instruments.
Security solutions like Azure Network Security can secure both apps and network infrastructure, automate network attack alerts, boost security at the edge, increase app availability and performance, and protect the network from common attacks. Employing these networking security solutions can enhance protection across industries:
- Healthcare providers can better protect patient privacy while securely accessing data from Internet of Things devices, driving improved patient outcomes. And as virtual healthcare visits grow more common, healthcare workers can benefit from networking services as remote workers too.
- Financial services employees can track financial transactions across the banking credit card network, preventing fraud with AI-based predictive risk modeling.
- Retail workers can use advanced video surveillance and analytics capabilities to monitor storefront events, offer frictionless checkout, and optimize stock replenishment.
How to choose networking services
When choosing a networking services solution, look for the equivalent of an accomplished, top-tier conductor who’s led some of the most celebrated orchestras in the world. Prioritize a collection of services that make it easy to do all of the following:
- Migrate apps and workloads
- Easily detect anomalies
- Optimize for superior performance
- Increase the security and resiliency of operations
And just as conductors have different specialties—perhaps in leading early music, or standard classical repertoire, or jazz combos—networking services break down into specialty areas, which can be mapped to your organization’s needs. Four major networking services categories are connectivity, network security, application delivery, and network monitoring.
Networking services can have a tremendous impact on an organization. Among the exciting possibilities, the right networking services solution can ease the complexity of remote work, maximize the value of edge intelligence, and tighten security to better protect people and data. For organizations with Azure, Azure Networking offers many capabilities that can be used separately or together. When it all comes together, your network will run as smoothly as a perfectly performed concerto.
For more information on how your complex remote work scenarios can be supported with NVIDIA GPUs to move your business forward, register for the virtual NVIDIA GTC March 22–25 event.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.