Enterprise networking is all about the software and hardware needed to communicate and work in an office, co-working space or any other type of business environment, such as go online, call others, host online meetings and so on.
There's a wide range of technologies involved, but the main ones revolve around your network. Think LAN (Local Area Network), WAN (Wide Area Network) and SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network).
A LAN is a local network. The most straightforward explanation is connecting several computers (and the odd server or camera) via a WiFi connection or ethernet cables that plug into a (modem) router.
Which brings us to a WAN. A WAN connects LANs over greater distances. We generally know this as the internet, although you don't need to connect LANs over the public internet for business purposes. Especially in enterprise, it's very common to connect different locations over a direct private line to guarantee Quality of Service (QoS).
SD-WAN is something different. It's a technology that allows enterprise networking providers to simplify network management. It can come in the shape of a pre-programmed router or a software tool alone. The general upshot of SD-WAN is that it's very flexible, which means quick implementation and efficient remote management.
Enterprise networking vendors compared
Several enterprise networking vendors offer a variety of solutions for enterprise networking. Let's compare four of the leading vendors that operate today.
1. The enterprise network solutions of Juniper Networks
Juniper Networks is a leading provider of network infrastructure solutions. Their innovative products deliver high performance, security and scale. Juniper Network products cover the entire network infrastructure spectrum. From physically securing the network to protecting it from online threats, and from delivering applications across a software-driven infrastructure to unlocking new services.
Providing customers with the full portfolio of solutions required for modern networks empowers their customers to transform their businesses. Better yet, they can create new opportunities with networks that deliver stunning performance, pioneer new capabilities, enhance security and scale efficiently.
Juniper is leading the AI revolution with the industry's first enterprise-grade network applications built on top of such capabilities.
The company believes that IT is highly critical to businesses around the world. According to them, the problem is that the landscape has become very complex due to the growing number of devices, operating systems, applications and users. It's hard for businesses to keep up with it all.
Their answer? Using artificial intelligence called Mist AI to connect the dots when it comes to insight, automation and actions. This allows Juniper to maximise the user experience. With its products, the company brings more simplicity, better reliability, and tighter security to its users' enterprise networks. It doesn't matter if this concerns wired or wireless access or even SD-WAN. It also doesn’t matter what type of network environment it concerns: from a campus to a data centre or even a multi-cloud environment.
2. The enterprise network solutions of Cisco
Cisco is a leading global provider of network equipment. The networking giant offers a comprehensive line of products in this space. In terms of hardware and software, anything that transports data, voice and video is covered by them. This American company was founded in 1984 and has grown into a household name for networking solutions worldwide.
Cisco doubles down on intent-based networking as opposed to regular network management. According to them, the difference is a network that needs 24/7 attention and manual maintenance and an automated network that understands what your organisation does or needs. Cisco achieves this by learning from your usage and automating manual tasks.
Cisco's Digital Network Architecture or Cisco DNA is billed as a bridge to an intent-based network. Cisco labels it as an 'open, extensible, software-driven architecture that accelerates and simplifies your enterprise network operations while lowering costs and reducing your risk.'
They claim to be the only provider to develop what they call 'a single network fabric powered by deep intelligence and integrated security.' This helps them deliver automation at scale for customers and ensure the networks remain safe, regardless of size. It is a welcome message for IT teams around the world who are tired of all that repetitive and time-consuming but essential manual network configuration work that keeps their networks, people, and data safe.
The Cisco DNA Automation and Assurance is built on technologies like SDN or software-defined networking controller, network virtualisation and rich contextual analytics. It has infinite scalability, thanks to the cloud. The company claims most of their switches, routers and wireless systems that currently ship support Cisco DNA now or after a software update. Cisco also has software subscriptions where you can choose between Cisco DNA Premier, Cisco DNA Advantage and Cisco DNA Essentials.
3. The enterprise network solutions of Arista
Arista Networks is a fast-growing, California-based network technology company. They focus on data centre and campus environments and have produced award-winning platforms like Arista CloudVision and Arista EOS (Arista Extensible Operating System), a ground-breaking single-image network operating system that works across hardware platforms. It even allows for in-service upgrades and application extensibility, thanks to its modern core architecture. Their platforms range in speed from 10 to 400 gigabits per second.
Arista Networks' customers include industry leaders in technology, media and communication. They build scalable data centres for multiple Fortune 500 companies and, thanks to a global network of distribution partners, resellers and system integrators, deliver products everywhere.
Let's zoom in on Arista EOS. This advanced, award-winning networking operation system allows for third-party development. This means others can build on the strong, secure and widely installed system to make sure it fits each customer.
The core of the operating system is built on a stable Linux core. This open-source core has a central state-oriented database, meaning Arista EOS is self-healing, upgradeable when it's in use and extremely robust. With Arista EOS Central, you get access to scripting examples, dev tools and support. And they don't just let you play around with it. They share code samples, answer questions in forums and post work-in-progress for early insight into use cases.
To make the line-up complete, Arista works closely together with Broadcom to create their hardware, the so-called Arista 7000 family of products. Together with Arista EOS, it maximises system uptime and includes features like advanced event management, zero-touch provisioning, stateful fault repair, latency analysis and much more.
The ethernet switches Arista produces include native support for VMware, network virtualisation and hundreds of other applications. Their hardware platforms are made to last in even the most demanding of data centres. They are happy to show you working examples in some of the largest cloud data centres around.
4. The enterprise network solutions of Aruba
Aruba Networks is a Hewlett Packard Enterprise subsidiary that, as the name suggests, concentrates on enterprise network solutions. Outside analysts have billed the company as a leader in the new WiFi 6 standard, network switching and SD-Branch. Lastly, they have a visionary label for data centre networking.
The company has been at the forefront of innovation from the start. To this day, they continue to invest significantly to deliver Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform). That's the first platform that goes beyond conventional network management and aims to provide AI-powered operations, provisioning, orchestration, security and location services from the cloud.
Aruba AI quickly spots anomalies and immediately comes up with smart recommendations for network admins. Aruba AI can do this because it has learned from over eighteen years of networking expertise with modelling data from over one million wired, wireless and SD-WAN devices. The company claims they are the only networking vendor with this level of AI expertise.
The HP subsidiary offers ‘as-a-service’ options in the form of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and NaaS (Networking-as-a-Service). This means customers are flexible when it comes to using the hardware, software and management operations. They also have flexible financing options, such as leasing, deferred payments and buy-back programmes.
Interested to know more about enterprise networking?
Do you want to know more about one or more of the vendors? Are you replacing your current software or hardware enterprise solutions? Don't hesitate to contact us. We are happy to provide you with the information you need to make the right choice. Give us a call or send us a message and we will get back to you soon.
Hilmar Burghgraaff - 9 March 2021
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