One fun thing about being an engineer is watching the rapid advances in technology. What was James Bond yesterday is ho-hum today - check out the "state of the art" technology in some old films.
But we sometimes lose sight of that business processes and requirements change, too. Here are a handful of significant shifts in business processes and requirements that I've noticed over the years:
At the same time, expectations for application performance at remote and distributed offices continue to ratchet up. Companies expect the same response time regardless of whether a user's down the hall or around the globe from the server on which the application is running.
These expectations make the WAN more important than ever. The combination of infrastructure consolidation and employee dispersion means that servers are increasingly remote from users. So if the network goes down, so do the apps - which is less acceptable than ever, thanks to the expectations of increased availability.
Thus, WANs need to be designed and managed with these requirements in mind. Network architects should think in terms of deploying application-acceleration tools, which help ensure performance even across less-than-perfect networks. Network architects also should design in availability and redundancy from the start. They should consider services that can be rolled out quickly, such as IP VPNs. Enabling effective management of remote sites, users and applications is increasingly key.
The bottom line: Effective WAN architecture is more important than ever, particularly in the light of changing business needs.
Johnson is president and senior founding partner at Nemertes Research, an independent technology research firm. .