Outside-in: Build the Network around the Devices you're Using

Nov 20, 2018

Here at Frost & Sullivan, my colleagues and I have been looking at the conventional wisdom associated with building and supporting local area networks, and we came away with a serious question: Is the current way to do things actually the best way to support Internet of Things (IoT)? The answer, it seems, is no.

The IoT has a significant impact on business networks, and all of the related requirements—including power, bandwidth and even where devices are deployed—are unique from anything else on the network. As a result, the way most network architects have grown up thinking about the LAN doesn’t work anymore. It’s clear that the industry needs a modern approach to network design. Modern LAN principles, developed by Frost & Sullivan, seek to develop a new set of best practices around local network design.

The first principle guiding Modern LAN design is one that particularly speaks to the challenge of incorporating IoT into a local area network: Adopt an outside-in approach to local area network design and planning. Before new endpoints are deployed, network managers must identify the power, bandwidth and application requirements of each unique physical device, in order to determine the best topology and infrastructure to support it.

Most network designs focus on the core network and move out to the devices that run on it. That delivers a homogeneous network, but it ignores the needs of the devices themselves—and the business benefits that said devices provide. If they take this approach as they embrace the IoT, businesses will likely pay for network bandwidth they don’t need, create a power over Ethernet (PoE) distribution nightmare and rack up a very large cabling bill.

The outside-in approach turns the design on its head, focusing on the devices at the end of the network matching them with the most appropriate network switches and power distribution infrastructure. With the outside-in principle applied, the network is more efficient and optimized for all the devices that connect to it. That, in turn, ensures better performance, thereby delivering the benefits and ROI promised by digital transformation and the IoT. Businesses can even save a few bucks by using existing and still useful wiring.

Outside-in is just one of several design best practices incorporated in the Modern LAN. To learn more, read the whitepaper “The Modern LAN: Rethinking Network Design for the Modern Age,” available at https://go.frost.com/Lan.


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Dilip Sarangan

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