Limited Resources across Multiple Locations? Maybe It’s Time to Consider a Unified Networking Platform.
Schools, retail stores, hospitals, churches – many such organizations operate multiple locations. Each location may have different networking needs, but effective management teams require consistency and streamlined processes to make the operation logistically viable and affordable. The cloud made it possible to standardize specific wireless IT operations, such as software deployment, and management among multiple locations. However, for a long time there was no way to bring together management of both wired and wireless networks into one management platform.
Many decentralized organizations with locations spread apart geographically are feeling the effects of soon-to-be-outdated networking equipment and tedious manual processes,” said Anthony Nabower, Senior Network Engineer, of Prime Communications, Inc. (PCI). “These organizations may be facing the challenge of limited IT resources to begin with and may have limited budgets.”
New technology labeled unified network operations or cloud management, solves these problems and takes us into a new era of network management. In the following, we will introduce the benefits of this innovative technology. But first, let’s examine the common challenges cloud management addresses.
Common Challenges Faced by Network Managers in Decentralized Organizations
As technology increasingly moves to the cloud, it can be a challenge for IT personnel to manage both old systems and new cloud capabilities efficiently and cost-effectively. Multi-location organizations must send IT personnel to each location to address unique technology needs of that particular site. Then they have to do it all over again for every site in the network. Even individual sites, such as schools, often have multiple access points in one location. This presents a number of interconnected issues and potentially creates a perfect storm for network failures:
- Limited resources. Each location in a dispersed network requires individualized hardware, software, service and other considerations in order to operate effectively. It can be a challenge to fit all needs into limited schedules and budgets.
- Demanding travel. Technicians must physically travel to each location in a decentralized organization. This costs time and money and can result in burnout.
- Rising costs. In addition to costs of traveling to multiple locations, network personnel must somehow stretch budgets to accommodate troubleshooting and updating of aging systems, including replacement of hardware and integration with new platforms.
- Time challenges. As technology changes, network requirements expand and systems age, it becomes more and more difficult to schedule in all the work that’s needed.
- Multiple logins. The need to log in to multiple wiring closets, switches, access points and applications creates a demanding, time-consuming, complex environment for IT service.
- Potential for error. Multiple configurations, ports, APs and switches in different locations — not to mention personnel burnout — present many opportunities for human error, which amounts to more time and cost.
Thankfully, technology continues to change and overcome these challenges. Some organizations are making the switch a little at a time. Others see the benefit and eventual cost savings of making a wholesale change as an investment in their future.
Networking’s Inevitable Move to the Cloud
New unified systems for cloud management are making it possible to manage systems faster, more effectively, and with more cost savings than ever before. Nabower said this change in technology amounts to a revolution for organizations with multiple locations, and he encourages decision-makers to seriously consider moving completely to the cloud. “It’s going to happen eventually anyway. The key now is to make sure your investment today takes advantage of cloud compatibility.”
As soon as cloud management technology became available, PCI carefully vetted providers and made a commitment to work with a pioneer in this realm of networking management: Aruba, a company Gartner has placed as an industry leader in its Magic Quadrant for 14 years in a row.
Aruba’s cloud management platform is called “Aruba Central.” According to the company’s website, the platform offers “easy to use deployment tools in a single pane of glass … a three-step onboarding wizard, zero-touch provisioning, a mobile app, [and] intuitive dashboard and reporting capabilities [to] help manage distributed environments of all sizes.”
How Unified Networking Platforms Solve Decentralized Networking Challenges
When it comes to day-to-day operation, a unified networking platform directly answers the problems listed above with both inherent qualities of the system and targeted features to provide substantial value for an organization.
- Combined access to equipment and applications. A unified networking platform simplifies network management by providing access to all hardware and software in wireless, wired and SD-WAN environments. Everything can be controlled and managed from a single location.
- Improved visibility. With cloud management on a unified platform, you can see everything at the same time in a single pane of glass. This allows IT personnel much more flexibility and makes it easier to understand what’s happening across the network.
- Deeper analytics. Data such as bandwidth and traffic in different locations can be combined and compared to help company leaders see trends over time.
- Remote access. A cloud-based networking management platform provides the ability to administer IT systems from anywhere, as long as you have Internet access and a browser. Travel is no longer required to manage every little issue or installation. In situations where employees may need to work from home, this significantly reduces the challenge of managing and deploying network access.
- Enhanced security. Cloud-based applications allow two-factor authentication, which provides a higher level of security for access than consoles that are limited to what you can do with a desktop or laptop. The platform allows flexibility in the way you secure your network. The system itself does not retain any files or personally identifiable material.
- Management from a central cloud-based platform allows consistent application of processes and programs to all remote sites. For example, IT personnel can be assured that all updates are completed correctly and all ports are in the right VLAN, which reduces troubleshooting and downtime for the network.
- As programs and processes are moved to the cloud, it becomes possible to increase automation. “Automated software updates are a no-brainer,” said Nabower. “But the system also can handle more complex automations, such as pushing out API commands.”
- Reduced staffing. Less travel, remote access, combined processes and other features of cloud management can lead to a potentially substantial reduction in personnel. “I’ve seen organizations go from two network administrators to one,” said Nabower.
- Cost savings. All of the above results in a reduction of day-to-day IT costs.
- The value of a unified networking platform can be easily expanded with add-ons, such as a guest Wi-Fi splash page, presence analytics, and another Aruba product that provides automated mobile and IoT device visibility (Aruba ClearPass Device Insight).
PCI specializes in deployment of the Aruba Central cloud management platform. Our integration engineers are highly trained and certified through Aruba.
“We can help you not only deploy this exciting solution but create policies and tools for you to manage it masterfully,” said Steve Kanne, Founder and VP of Business Development. PCI also offers monthly managed services packages and flexible financing options for customers who are ready to make the switch.
Cloud Management is Technology of the Future Available Today
In the end, the greatest benefit of a unified cloud management networking platform is ease of use. With this simplifying technology available, there’s no reason to continue dealing with painful gaps in service, burdensome trips to multiple locations, inconsistency, errors and security breaches.
If your network suffers from limited resources, bandwidth issues, personnel crunches and rising costs just to keep your old distributed system going, it might be time to invest in your future. Ask us how your organization can start down a path to improved efficiency, fewer mistakes, greater flexibility and deeper insight using a unified cloud management platform.
For more information about Aruba Central or any of your networking or integration needs, call PCI at 402-289-4126 and ask for Sales or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org