How A Single Network Source Of Truth Eliminates Downtime, And Eases The Management Burden

Wednesday March 31, 2021


Each year, network downtime and manual network management processes result in huge losses to enterprises in all sectors. In some industries, these costs even introduce the prospect of physical danger to consumers. As we’ll reveal in this article, you can eliminate the risk with a network solution that provides automated management, and a single source of truth.

Counting The Costs Of Manual Network Management Processes And Downtime

For companies relying on information technology, manual network management processes can consume dozens of engineering man-years annually. And these inefficiencies take a toll on the organization’s bottom line. Assuming a cost of US $ 75,000 per engineer for 12 engineering man-years, the cost of a single dozen such years to the enterprise is $ 900,000.

Based on an assumed automation investment of US $25 million, and an anticipated ROI of 20% dropping to 15%, the loss in Return On Investment (ROI) due to manual steps in network management processes that could otherwise be automated comes to $1,250,000 annually.

Network downtime presents an even bigger threat -- one that can have life or death consequences in mission-critical applications. Assuming 10,000 networks and an average of 1 minute of unplanned downtime per network each year, the yearly cost of downtime and service disruptions comes to US $27,440,000.

In light of issues like this, top research firm Gartner, Inc., recommends automating all manual tasks which are performed more often than four times per year, and boosting agility by investing in network automation tools. With many organizations struggling to adopt a single technology strategy that encompasses both IT and network elements, a unified approach based on virtual infrastructure and open APIs (application programming interfaces) is essential for Digital Transformation and emerging network technologies such as 5G.

Why Your Organization Needs A New Network Management Solution

With digital transformation sweeping the corporate world, many organizations now have critical services which rely on leading technology. Some might have a business infrastructure based on Microsoft AD, VMWare, or other more traditional on-premises technology solutions. Others may depend on container-based application deployment models, edge cloud extensions ramped out using VMware, or the need to run workloads both in private data centers and in public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS).

From an enterprise networking point of view, deploying on-premise data centers while simultaneously leveraging the public cloud creates a hybrid architecture that increases network complexity. Such deployments can also lead to increasing capacity demands, and management burdens that manual processes relying on spreadsheets simply can’t handle.

Why You Need A Network Source Of Truth In The Public Cloud

Thriving in the digital economy often requires organizations to continuously roll out new services, in order to stay ahead of the competition. With this type of incremental growth, it’s generally a good strategy for organizations to port some of this load into the public cloud, using a hybrid model. Once the footprint in the public cloud reaches a certain level, the organization can then build a new data center.

In effect, this approach uses the public cloud as a growth buffer for IT. However, this is a situation that usually requires the enterprise network to connect with the public cloud over a Virtual Private Network or VPN. Amazon calls this Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), while Microsoft calls it Virtual Network. In both cases, the public cloud essentially becomes a part of your enterprise networks. For security and operational reasons, this configuration demands that there be no overlap between the subnets you have on-premise, and the subnets that you set up in the virtual public cloud.

For your organization’s presence on AWS or Azure therefore, the challenge is to make sure that you have a network source of truth that neatly manages the subnet assignments for both the on-premise subnets and the enterprise subnets in the public cloud. Overlapping networks between on-premises and public cloud can introduce serious risks -- not least of which are downtime issues.

Excel spreadsheets and manual processes prone to human error simply aren’t an option in this case, so an automated network management solution is key.

Achieving Automation For Containers

If your organization is using containers quite actively, you’ll need a network management solution that gives you the ability to automate the network-related parts of the application deployment process. Visibility throughout the enterprise and a network source of truth will also facilitate the automation of various tasks. For containers, this can include simple things like automatically assigning IP addresses via REST, and implementing fully automated DNS management to make sure that each container has an IP address and a resolvable FQDN.

By activating dedicated subnets for containers, such a management solution also provides security, enabling the organization to make sure that the containers which constitute a micro-service are being run in isolated subnets.

Automation and A Source Of Truth For Edge Cloud

Edge cloud enables organizations to bring their services closer to the consumers and systems that actually use them. These are comparatively early days for edge cloud deployment, and integrating with your organization’s choice of edge cloud stack is central to the network source of truth philosophy. For example, if your organization is using VMware NSX stacks to roll out these edge clouds, each will have its own set of subnets to manage, in addition to the DHCP service attached to the NSX.

A solution that integrates your on-premise infrastructure, public cloud, edge, and containers will enable all the different elements of your advanced enterprise network to be managed in a single source of truth.

Why FusionLayer Is The Answer

With FusionLayer, you’ll have a network source of truth that enables your organization to effectively manage subnets running Microsoft DNS and DHCP, and to keep track of VPCs and subnets in AWS.

Additionally, by unleashing the power of automation, FusionLayer will enable you to automatically provision subnets, IPs, and DNS for containers, and to maintain visibility and control over VMware NSX Edges.

Through automation and compatibility with industry-standard container orchestration platforms like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, FusionLayer gives these orchestrators access to data like free subnet information, free VLANs, and the kinds of policy data they need to automatically instantiate new subnets.

By Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc.Juha Holkkola is the Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc. An inventor with several patents in the US and Europe, he is an advocate of technology concepts with tangible operational impact. Juha is an active proponent of emerging technology trends such as cloud computing, hybrid IT and network functions virtualization, and a regular speaker at various industry events.

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