Reaping the benefits of more intelligent campus networks

Reaping the benefits of more intelligent campus networks

A campus network is a proprietary local area network (LAN) or set of interconnected LANs serving a corporation, government agency, university or similar organisation. In this context, a typical campus encompasses a set of buildings in close proximity. The end users in a campus network may be dispersed more widely (in a geographical sense) than in a single LAN, but they are usually not as scattered as they would be in a wide area network (WAN). Faisal Malik, CTO, Huawei Enterprise Business Group, Middle East, tells us how organisations can reap the benefits of more intelligent campus networks.

In the digital era, cities are often made up of various “campus” networks. This campus can be a university, a large enterprise office, a factory, a transport depot, or even an airport. Using both wired and wireless networks, these campuses enable businesses to leverage the Internet of Everything in creating better customer services and experiences, more innovative products and more efficient operations. They are truly a foundation for developing Smart Cities in the Middle East.

However, organisations wishing to transform their campus networks face some formidable obstacles. A whitepaper Huawei released jointly with IDC last year showed that 76% of enterprises are keen to reconstruct their campus networks, but are impeded by complex network technologies, insufficient personnel skills, and insufficient funds.

To address these evolving requirements, enterprises must either add more staff to resolve the issues or use automation tools to deal with the influx of data and the convergence of different constituencies. We believe automation is the path of least resistance, mainly because organisations across the globe are facing acute ICT skills shortage as it is.

In that quest for network autonomy, combining traditional networks and other emerging technologies like AI can significantly enhance automation. This has led many organisations to embark on a journey towards autonomous driving networks (ADNs) that break the limits of manual processing.

For a business leader, there are clear benefits of adopting ADNs. For one, their engineers will no longer be burdened by repetitive and complex operations once network autonomy has been achieved. In addition, the networks themselves will be able to predict and prevent both faults and service-quality deterioration. The intelligence gained from employing AI within an ADN also supports higher operational and resource efficiency.

In a recent whitepaper, researchers at Gartner identified some key considerations for today’s business leaders to optimise their campuses using solutions like ADNs. This includes implementing SD-WAN with all Internet WANs for cloud-first and cloud-driven deployments. It requires embracing AI and Machine Learning solutions to maximise uptime, avoid trouble tickets and accelerate trouble resolution. Network managers should further incorporate multi-cloud networking solutions to provide an end-to-end, unified, orchestrated solution from user to workload.

Recognising these priorities and leveraging its vast expertise in the network field, Huawei recently launched a new autonomous driving network solution for campuses. The technology aims to enhance the automation and intelligence of network management using Big Data and AI. It transforms a campus network from purely technology oriented with best effort access, to one that is user-experience centric. Today’s solutions can deliver higher O&M efficiency than manual operations and accelerate campus network evolution toward achieving automation, self-healing and self-optimisation. Intelligent automation also helps in making campuses more secure as the type and number of terminals in a campus increases rapidly, along with embedding IoT into a wireless campus network. This ultimately lays a solid foundation for the Digital Transformation of enterprises in any industry.

Yet, there is a long way to go before autonomous driving networks for campuses are fully realised. The automation and intelligence level of campus networks still needs to be improved to provide more convenient, faster and higher-quality services across industries. Technology pioneers must keep testing how we can take cutting-edge developments in areas such as AI and apply those into the design of campus networks. Finally, we must appreciate that some areas are harder to automate than others. Organisations will need to examine what makes sense to automate and what manual tasks employees should own. In the meantime, the value of autonomous driving networks has never been clearer. The technology can help solve some of the fundamental IT challenges that businesses face today. Not only can business leaders take some of the complexity out of managing their traditional campus networks, but new cost savings can be realised and organisations across the Middle East can start to extract even more value from their Digital Transformation efforts.

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