Network Evolution

Building the infrastructure for the changing face of IT

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Mobile device usage solves one problem, creates another

The ubiquity of mobile devices has made it easy to find and contact anyone, anywhere. But it's also creating headaches for many enterprise network engineers.

There's a scene from Mad Men -- yes, of all things -- that perfectly illustrates how much mobile device usage has changed our lives.

The episode, which takes place in the 1960s, comes to a head when anti-hero protagonist Don Draper sweet-talks/bullies his wife Megan into cutting out of work early and joining him on an impromptu road trip to a restaurant in upstate New York -- a five-hour drive from their home in Manhattan. Megan, who didn't want to leave work, goes along but gets frustrated when Don later dismisses her concerns about shortchanging her career. It culminates in an epic blowout that ends with Don storming out, driving off and abandoning his wife in the parking lot.

Don cools off and eventually returns to the restaurant, ready to reconcile. But Megan is nowhere to be found. Don gets no answers from the staff inside the restaurant and, panicked, runs to a payphone to call one of his employees in Manhattan to see if she's heard from Megan. Out of options and fearing the worst, Don drives around aimlessly for hours looking for his wife.

This is where it becomes painfully clear how unimaginable such a scenario would be today. With a mobile device (or two) in everyone's pocket, the plot would have been wrapped up within minutes. For me, it underscores how many problems mobile device usage has solved. Yet for many network engineers, the absolute ubiquity of these devices has created challenges as well.

Enterprise wireless networks are often designed for coverage, not density. But when networks are saturated with countless smartphones, tablets and other devices, cracks begin to show in the form of poor performance. As we explore in this issue of Network Evolution, the next generation of wireless infrastructure, based on the so-called Wave 2 of 802.11ac, aims to alleviate these challenges (In Wave 2, 802.11ac tackles density with multi-user MIMO).

We also dive into what makes or breaks a unified communications (UC) deployment (End-user training, internal marketing key to UC adoption), as well as how engineers are overcoming challenges around operating hybrid cloud networks (Hybrid cloud application delivery: Challenges and success stories).

In this edition of The Subnet, one engineer weighs in on how the double-whammy of signal propagation problems and more mobile devices is driving changes in his network design (A wireless network design can't be static). Finally, be sure to check out this month's Network Innovation Award winner, Midokura's MidoNet Community Edition. 

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