An enterprise network is the backbone of an organization’s ability to communicate and share data. This system extends beyond just computers, and also includes phone systems, fax machines, IoT, applications, and other communication and data devices.
Also see: 7 Enterprise Networking Challenges
What is an enterprise network?
An enterprise network is a hardware and software infrastructure that connects a company’s computers, servers and other devices. It allows employees to connect to shared resources and provides access to internal and external applications.
A large company may have an extensive enterprise network that connects buildings around its headquarter campus with high-speed Internet and other necessities. Enterprise networks can also be found in small businesses that work on local area networks (LANs).
What does an enterprise network do?
An enterprise network includes various hardware components, including routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers. These hardware components support software applications such as operating systems and network management software, as well as procedures and processes that work together to help enterprises exchange data.
Different departments in a company may use their hardware devices on different parts of the same enterprise network. What they all have in common is the need to communicate with each other so workers can exchange files, make phone calls and perform all the other essential tasks required for doing business.
Each device uses its operating system and configuration settings, but those must be able to talk to each other through an agreed-upon protocol such as TCP/IP or IPX/SPX.
To facilitate communication between devices on an enterprise network, there’s also likely to be a router or switch somewhere along the line. These devices act like traffic cops; they receive packets from one device and route them to another based on addresses contained within those packets.
Also see: What is Software-Defined Networking
Types of enterprise networks
There are three common types of enterprise networks:
Local Area Network (LAN)
This network usually connects computers and other devices in a small area such as an office building. It’s local because it only covers a limited geographic area and typically uses cables to connect devices. Since LANs cover a small space, there isn’t much concern about security or privacy.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
A wide-area network (WAN) is any computer network that spans larger distances than a LAN. A WAN may span cities, states, countries, or even continents. In contrast to LANs, which use cables for connectivity, WANs often use telephone lines or radio waves to communicate between network nodes. The Internet is one example of a WAN.
Enterprise IT departments can also take advantage of cloud computing resources. Cloud computing uses virtualization technology to allow companies to rent server space on a pay-as-you-go basis instead of purchasing their hardware.
Cloud computing allows users to access applications and data from anywhere using any device with Internet access. These applications reside on servers hosted by a third-party company known as a cloud provider.
Benefits of an optimized enterprise network system
An optimized enterprise network can increase overall productivity and efficiency, giving your organization a competitive edge.
- Enhance employees’ productivity: A well-designed network increases employee efficiency by making it easier for them to access information quickly and complete tasks on time. This, in turn, reduces errors and helps organizations operate more smoothly.
- Improve customer service: An optimized enterprise network can help a company provide better customer service by allowing it to offer faster response times and streamlined operations so that reps can attend to customers faster.
- Enhance security: An optimized enterprise network can help you keep your data secure by reducing potential vulnerabilities and minimizing potential threats. It also protects against attacks, giving you peace of mind that your business’s sensitive information will be protected.
- Reduce costs: An optimized enterprise network can help you reduce costs by helping you consolidate your systems and streamline your operations. This, in turn, reduces expenses like hardware and maintenance fees. It also helps improve employee productivity so that you can operate more efficiently with fewer resources.
Best practices in planning and deploying enterprise networks
Connectivity is key in optimizing workforce productivity, IT service delivery, and overall operational efficiency within your organization.
The size of your company, number of employees, industry vertical, location(s), equipment and budget all play a part in determining what type of network will work best for you. Here are 5 best practices in planning and deploying enterprise networks.
Network design is optimally based on a well-structured company communication plan. A company needs clearly defined goals and objectives regarding how it wants to communicate internally and externally. This essential plan will make things easier for everyone involved in creating an effective network infrastructure.
Define your needs
Before jumping head first into building out complex network infrastructure, take some time to define precisely what you need from your new system – before deciding which vendors or products to use.
Do your research
No matter how much experience you may have with enterprise networking, it’s always a good idea to do your research before committing to any particular vendor or product. There are many options available today, so spend some time evaluating each one against your specific requirements.
Hire a professional
Whether you are looking to build a new network from scratch or simply upgrade your existing infrastructure, hiring a professional will ensure everything goes smoothly and according to schedule.
Make sure everyone is on board
When bringing together various departments (IT, marketing, sales) within your organization to discuss your plans for implementing an enterprise network, ensure everyone is on board with their respective roles and responsibilities throughout the project lifecycle.
Enterprise network trends
Today’s enterprises rely on more than just single networks; they have extended infrastructures of various networks that come together to form an enterprise network. While, on one hand, it’s considered a standard part of business operations, enterprise networking is also very complex. As such, the following are several key trends shaping enterprise networks.
Virtualization provides an excellent way for businesses to make their networks scalable while reducing costs by using fewer hardware resources. Virtualized enterprise networks can support different types of traffic simultaneously without any interference or degradation in performance—and allow businesses to quickly respond when there’s a change in traffic flow or new users need access.
Enterprise architects automate complex network management tasks with a combination of hardware and software. Automation makes self-healing networks possible, which is key in enterprise environments where downtime is costly. To keep things running smoothly in an enterprise environment, IT staff must have some way of automatically dealing with problems before they become full-blown outages.
SD-WAN allows enterprises to create virtual connections over multiple underlying links simultaneously; if one link fails, traffic can automatically shift over to another without interrupting service or losing connectivity. This flexibility makes SD-WAN far more resilient than traditional overlay designs.
Managed network services
Enterprises are using new network service delivery models, like Networking as a Service (NaaS) or Software-Defined Networking (SDN). NaaS allows enterprises to offload responsibility for their networking infrastructure by leveraging cloud services from managed service providers. At the same time, SDN enables enterprises to treat their entire network as a single resource they can control through software platforms.
Also see: Best Cloud Networking Solutions
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Companies are implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions to help network visibility and security. With AI/ML, companies can optimize their network infrastructure for peak performance and business agility.
Zero trust network access
A zero-trust network refers to a security architecture that requires access to resources on an enterprise’s network to be approved at every layer of authorization. This is especially important for companies with sensitive data, such as healthcare providers and financial institutions. Zero trust networks can also serve as additional protection against ransomware attacks and other data breaches.