Rethinking the Campus Network


Wireless networks have become imperative to support today’s increasingly mobile workforce. Users need ready access to productivity-enhancing applications and services, yet many IT departments are struggling to keep pace with those demands. In many organizations, wired and wireless networks remain divided, meaning that IT must juggle multiple management platforms, security policies and access controls. Overstretched network teams lack the visibility and control they need to rapidly deploy new services and ensure a high-quality user experience.

The solution to this conundrum is to take a campus approach to network management. The term “campus network” once referred to a set of interconnected LANs serving multiple buildings in close proximity. As wireless networks have become integral parts of the IT infrastructure, the concept of the campus network has broadened to include a unified wired and wireless network environment with single-pane-of-glass management and streamlined access control.

Fully integrated management reduces the complexity of planning, implementing and operating network infrastructure. It also provides secure access to mission-critical resources and a consistent user experience across both wired and wireless networks. Configuration, monitoring and fault management features help isolate bottlenecks and speed problem resolution.

But single-pane-of-glass management is only part of the story. Organizations also need security and access controls that provide contextual policy enforcement based upon user, device, location, time of day and other criteria. The unified access layer should be based upon open standards in order to ensure compatibility with endpoints and systems and simplify application support.

Management tools should also provide multivendor capabilities in an open framework approach. This enables organizations to leverage existing investments in networking equipment while creating an interoperable, converged campus.

Software-defined networking (SDN) creates a more agile campus network that can automatically adapt to application requirements and optimize the user experience. With SDN, all network policies and applications can be centrally programmed and managed through a single controller. SDN also uses automation and orchestration to provision, configure and allocate network resources, eliminating the time-consuming process of programming each network device manually according to vendor-specific protocols.

Open standards have emerged in the SDN market as organizations seek to break free from vendor lock-in. In fact, some experts have predicted that open-source standards will soon become an SDN requirement. However, the dominance of proprietary operating systems, hardware and middleware in the networking and telecom sectors has made it difficult for open- source solutions to gain traction.

In a campus network environment, open standards help ensure tight integration between wired and wireless networks. One, simpler network is more reliable and agile, and provides a high-quality user experience. According to HPE, unified access and management enables 83 percent faster service deployment and lowers total cost of ownership by up to 47 percent.

Users have come to expect wireless access that delivers the same performance and reliability as the traditional wired network. In order to meet those expectations, many organizations are looking to create a campus network environment that unifies wired and wireless under a single management and access control platform. By incorporating SDN capabilities and open standards, today’s campus network provides greater visibility and control along with the agility to respond to constantly changing requirements.