Break Your Network Before Big Data Does

Jeff Harris, Senior Director, Ixia
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Jeff Harris, Senior Director, Ixia

Many millions of dollars worth of network downtime can your organization afford? How many customers are you willing to lose to your competitors? Breaking your network sounds terrible, but when the Big Data wave hits your shores, you’ll be glad you broke your own network first.  

The rapid pace of technology innovation is changing the world around us, creating exciting new opportunities. The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding the connectedness of people and things on an unprecedented scale. By 2020, there may be as many as 50 billion connected devices—including cars, homes, and entire cities. The IoT will be part of our everyday lives, and create new and massive data streams that businesses will depend on to achieve their objectives. This Big Data has the potential to be of great value in many aspects of business and everyday life, although the journey will not be without some risk and pain. 

Big Data, Big Challenges 

Big Data is an emerging force for enterprises, service providers, and average users. Simply put, Big Data is large amounts of information that tax the limitation of a typical network because of the size and speed of the data running across it. For enterprises and service providers, this data is critical to monetizing the network. Big Data is different from traditional IT in many ways, but it still requires processing, securing, and monitoring. Key focus areas when managing Big Data are application behavior, network performance, and security. 

Big Data is here, and it isn’t going away—so you must architect your network to handle what it can bring. The importance of Big Data as a business function has increased, but what does this mean to the strain on networks? 

There is no shortage of advice on how to process applications. But what is not talked about are Big Data's networking requirements and the associated risks. Neither the data nor the intelligence is of much value if they can't get to their destinations—and in a secure and reasonable amount of time. 

The network infrastructure, security, and visibility must be top priorities. At its heart, the Big Data challenge is a question of scale and security resilience. If you are not preparing to deliver an even more robust and secure network, you are not prepared for Big Data. 

The need to manage massive data loads across multiple devices actually runs counter to what many infrastructure platforms are designed for these days. Big Data can easily become a big loss for business if the infrastructure is not designed to be secure, visible, and scalable. 

Big Data, Big Gains 

Big Data offers many benefits including operational intelligence and efficiencies. But heavy application loads require changes to network infrastructure, and if not planned and fully validated, organizations can easily find themselves with network downtime resulting in massive loss of business. Even with the enthusiasm around Big Data, organizations need to quickly address how to scale, monitor, and secure their infrastructures to accommodate the large volumes of data to be analyzed. 

Is your network infrastructure ready to help deliver those results? Big Data must be transmitted and processed by a number of applications which all depends on the network infrastructure to support the growing traffic and applications. To meet the demands of Big Data, network architects and managers must quickly scale and secure their infrastructure before the Big Data wave hits. They need to have three aspects well provisioned in order to address Big Data demands: infrastructure, security, and visibility. 

Infrastructure 

Today’s users expect immediate access to a wide range of media-rich applications and services, instantly and from any location. To deliver it all without fail, networks and data centers are being architected or overhauled to support cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), video-conferencing, social networking, and much more. Companies are consolidating facilities, integrating storage and computing networks, and virtualizing systems across the data centers, and equipment makers are scrambling to keep up with new demands. All of this while Big Data is throwing a tsunami of traffic at the network. 

With deficiencies in any area placing time-to-market, ROI, and QoE at risk, infrastructure architects must leverage proactive network test strategies to fully evaluate every decision, driving the need to: 

• Simulate and assess intended facilities
• Benchmark end-to-end application delivery
• Verify security and compliance
• Isolate and troubleshoot problems
• Validate data center migration plans 

If the network is overloaded or down, your customers will seek one that isn’t. Your network infrastructure must be able to handle what Big Data can throw at it. 

Security 

With more and more devices connecting to the network and generating traffic, comes an equally growing number of network security holes that provide an opportunity for intrusion. Network defenses are constantly under attack from cyber criminals, organized hacktivists, and even disgruntled ex-employees. The stakes have never been higher for organizations, with the ongoing risks of DDoS attacks, advanced malware, botnets, data breaches, and damage to business goals during downtime from security failures. Even a small vulnerability in your network or data center infrastructure can lead to major financial and reputational damage. The bombardment of traffic from Big Data can open up your network to breaches. 

It is no longer sufficient to just choose and deploy the products designed to address your security needs; you now need to prioritize gaining deeper insight into your overall security resilience. “Resilience” is defined as the ability to bounce back, and when it comes to security, every second needed to defend and recover from attacks can cost millions of dollars. Most enterprises are now spending heavily to deflect crippling cyber-attacks that impact their revenues and reputation, but without a viable means of testing before they invest and validate future changes. 

Monitoring 

Big Data requires large investments in monitoring tools. As a result, it is essential that IT teams get the most out of their monitoring tools by taking full advantage of their core capabilities. To help IT teams realize the full benefit of their monitoring tools, advanced network monitoring switches provide a number of features that offload compute-intensive processing from their tools. Such features include: 

• Load Balancing
• Filtering
• Packet De-Duplication
• Packet Trimming 

It is only through successful end-to-end visibility that companies can reap the rewards that Big Data has to offer—in other words, getting the required traffic intelligence that allows you to interact with customers on a much more personal level and tailoring their experience to suit their needs.  

Solution: Break your network before moving to Big Data  

You need to know how far your network can be pushed before it breaks—and it is better to do that before it impacts your customers. In other words, you need someone who can break your network before you go live.

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