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Part 4: A Workplace-Agnostic Solution for a More Helpful Network

Note: This is the fourth in a four-part series about how VMware Edge Network Intelligence™, the new solution created from the integration of VMware SD-WAN™ by VeloCloud® and Nyansa Voyance, enables better insights for IT into client device experience and client behavior.

The New Normal Is Here to Stay

Before the beginning of 2020, technology was gradually shifting to accommodate working outside the office. When COVID-19 hit, millions of people around the world suddenly began working from home.

As the business environment has adapted over the past six months, it’s apparent that this new model is here to stay. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that long-term, he expects around 50 to 60 percent of VMware employees will work from home full time. Other predictions put the number of full-time home workers in the future closer to 30 percent, but estimate that there are big cost savings even in smaller numbers: up to $11,000 annually per worker, even if that person only works from home half the time.

Gelsinger also predicted that VMware campuses—and the buildings of many enterprises—will “move from being a hotel for offices to a collaboration hub.” Some employees will work remotely full-time, some will work from offices full-time, and some will move between home and office as needed, perhaps sharing desks or conference rooms at central locations. And as more employees access work apps in the cloud from mobile devices, the more “the office” becomes a concept instead of a physical location.

The Enterprise Edge Is Expanding

Enterprises have responded admirably to this new reality, sending equipment and software to their employees to set up home offices. IT support, however, has had a hard time supporting these work-from-anywhere (WFA) employees. They are using whatever device they have, not necessarily a standard device with a standard configuration provided by their enterprise. They are using whatever cellular network or local ISP they have, not a network designed for business-grade access to enterprise applications.

It’s more difficult to support a user on a home or mobile network, because the infrastructure components are not completely within the enterprises’ control. IT teams are still figuring out how to extend their operational models to provide a secure environment without compromising employees’ user experiences.

As the edge of the network becomes more complex, IT departments are struggling to provide a consistent and high quality user experience. Their issues involve how to:

  • Understand the overall availability of users (e.g. uptime, response time, quality of experience)
  • Proactively identify and isolate issues that are affecting users, and do it at scale
  • Guide employees to resolve issues when they occur
  • Calculate the value that different technologies are providing for WFH/WFA users
  • Isolate faults and figure out if an issue is with an application, with an employee’s LAN, with the WAN, or someplace else. Even when IT believes they have isolated the fault, they can’t give any guidance. “We think it’s your home network” is not a satisfying response to hear from the help desk.

Introducing VMware Edge Network Intelligence

SD-WAN is evolving. It began as an edge-to-edge technology, but now it is expanding to serve individual clients that access the network anywhere, from home networks to mobile devices to large campuses, and through to the cloud. With this evolution, it’s becoming more difficult to secure the edge and make sure that user experience doesn’t degrade as the edge multiplies into millions of homes and devices.

VMware Edge Network Intelligence, based on technology acquired from Nyansa, is a vendor-agnostic artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) solution focused on the enterprise edge. The solution uses machine learning-based predictive analysis, actionable intelligence, and proactive remediation to assure performance, security, and visibility of end-user and IoT devices at the distributed enterprise edge—branch, campus or home.

VMware Edge Network Intelligence provides visibility not just into the SD-WAN network, but all the way to the LAN. Network administrators gain a complete view of the client experience, whether or not that client is using SD-WAN to access the network.

Work Use Cases

To understand the business cases for VMware Edge Network Intelligence, it’s helpful to look at three types of employees—power users, standard users and light users—who could be working at home, working in the office, or working from anywhere.

An example of a power user is a radiologist who needs fast, reliable bandwidth to view scans, or a call center worker who can’t afford dropped VoIP calls. These workers are more likely to have an SD-WAN device in their home office, such as a VMware SD-WAN Edge. As VMware Edge Network Intelligence is integrated into VMware SD-WAN Edges, the Edges themselves will be able to provide the information that helps IT isolate faults and proactively address problems. AIOPs helps justify the investment that companies have made in SD-WAN by showing improvement in user experience. Moreover, AIOPs enables self-healing networks where the system can get ahead of application performance issues and simply inform IT of the remediation actions taken.

Standard users and light users, who use typical business apps such as Microsoft 365 and Zoom, are less likely to have SD-WAN in their home offices. For these users, VMware Edge Network Intelligence can get user experience data from the clients themselves using a client app, and from application integrations with apps such as Zoom. This gives IT uniform insight into employee user experience, no matter where the user is working.

Into the Future

VMware SD-WAN is also expanding to the secure access service edge (SASE) as cloud networking and cloud security converge. By offering a cloud-first approach, reliable application delivery and intrinsic security, the VMware SASE Platform™ enables flexibility, agility, and scale for enterprises of all sizes. VMware Edge Network Intelligence is an extension of the platform, providing actionable insights for performance assurance and a self-healing network through AI/ML-enabled visibility from the WAN to branch and Wi-Fi/LAN. Stay tuned for specific use cases in a future post.

Learn More at VMworld 2020

This year, VMworld is virtual—and General passes are free! Register here, and get all the details about the conference and the SD-WAN offerings in our blog post.

To learn more about VMware Edge Network Intelligence, register for these VMworld sessions:

 

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