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Networking & Management: What’s Coming at EC20

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Enterprise networking
Image: alphaspirit - stock.adobe.com
Come March 30 to April 2, I’ll be in Orlando, Fla., once again leading networking-related sessions at Enterprise Connect. This year, I’ll be exploring how to deliver quality of service (QoS) across disparate networks; taking a look at the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on network management; providing guidance on network automation; and sharing my thoughts on the indoor cellular vs. Wi-Fi debate. Read on for more information on my sessions.
 
Delivering QoS Across Disparate Networks — How We Did It
Our consulting work at NetCraftsmen provides us with the opportunity to see when QoS works and the impact when it isn’t used. I’ve frequently described our observations in articles and presentations and the importance of QoS in enterprise networks. Many people still think that higher link speeds are a good alternative to QoS. However, application bandwidth demands are increasing along with link speeds, so bottlenecks and micro-burst congestion that drop packets continue to plague networks.
 
The migration of applications to cloud-based infrastructure means that application traffic is often transiting networks that you do not administer. QoS is not an option in these cases. Possibly the worst case is that traffic transits the Internet, which has no quality guarantee. We often find that corporate executives do not understand the challenges of deploying time-sensitive applications, whether they are cloud-based, hosted in a co-lo facility, or housed in a corporate data center.
 
What are the options for time-sensitive applications? How can we support time-critical applications in offices located around the world? In this session, I will describe alternatives that can help provide an acceptable level of application performance.
 
AI’s Impact on Network Management
AI is permeating many aspects of daily life, including facial recognition, autonomous vehicles, and marketing analysis. A number of network management products are incorporating AI into the identification of anomalies in network management data.
 
This session features a panel of experts from companies that incorporate AI into their network management products. We will lead off with a brief review of AI and its impact on network management. We will then ask our panelists to answer questions from the audience and to describe what they see for AI in network management as products mature.
 
A Step-by-Step Guide to Automating Your Network
Network automation is required to match the speed of server and storage configuration. Virtual machines, virtual storage, and now virtual networking are needed for organizations to remain competitive. If you’ve not been doing automation, how do you start? Network operators make mistakes on a regular basis that negatively impact the network and applications. What prevents network automation from creating widespread network outages, simply due to the speed with which changes can be performed? Are there ways to eliminate the risk of applying automation to an existing network?
 
For this session, we have assembled a team of industry experts to address these questions and any others that you may have about adopting automation. Join us to learn how to apply automation to your network while minimizing risk, even in a brownfield network.
 
Indoor Cellular Versus Wi-Fi
News about the benefits of the pending migration of cellular networks to 5G is everywhere. 5G’s proponents highlight the low latency and high bandwidth that will revolutionize mobile networking. Some predictions suggest that 5G will replace all other wireless technologies, but I’m somewhat skeptical because each technology has advantages and disadvantages. We shouldn’t overlook what smart RF engineers can do and it may be that it is good enough to replace Wi-Fi.
 
With all the hype about 5G, I thought that I should investigate it further. So, when I recently considered a mobile phone upgrade, I considered getting a 5G-capable model. A variety of mobile phone companies, including Huawei, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Nokia, are selling or launching 5G-labeled phones (see list of all upcoming and launched 5G mobile phones in 2019). However, I’m an Apple product user and Apple doesn’t make a phone that supports 5G (as of the beginning of 2020). Plus, I discovered that U.S. cellular carriers only have test networks set up in specific cities. You have to go to Korea and China to find production 5G networks supporting millions of phones. The combination of spotty coverage and lack of phone support for 5G is causing me to delay my mobile phone upgrade.
 
Apple’s latest iPhone, version 11, enables greater client density and higher bandwidth via support for Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE standard 802.11ax). Of course, the upstream network path to the application server must also support higher speed, or you won’t see much of an improvement.
 
The above factors beg for an answer to the question: Will 5G supplant Wi-Fi 6? Is there room for both technologies? Are there clear advantages for one technology over the other in certain situations? With the wireless trend continuing, network equipment vendors will want to have a share of the wireless access point business.
 
Mobility expert Michael Finneran, of dBrn Associates, and I will get together in this session to explore these questions. The discussion should help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of each technology and how each should be deployed. Michael is a great speaker. He keeps it interesting and very informative. I’m looking forward to a session with him.
 
The Schedule
These four sessions will occur at the times below. Mark your EC schedules!
It’s good that I’m a morning person…
 
At EC20 I’ll be around all week, and if you want to meet, leave a message for me at the Speaker Services, located on the conference level in the Miami room. And use the code SLATTERY when you register to receive a $400 conference discount!
 
See you there!

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