December 19, 2022

Article
3 min

3 Ways Cloud-Managed Networks Support Digital Transformation

Zero-touch provisioning, artificial intelligence and scalability simplify network management.

Sven Rasmussen

Cloud-managed networking, which applies the benefits of the cloud to connectivity, sets a foundation for digital transformation that can support business objectives. For example, a national retailer could use cloud-managed networking to remotely configure access points and switches in locations across the country — easier, faster and less expensive than updating networks onsite. Those networks, in turn, enable the retailer to change the way it does business, such as replacing cash registers with point-of-sale handhelds and using interactive apps to deliver real-time coupons based on a shopper’s location. 

When networks are managed in the cloud, organizations can leverage three key advantages that advance digital transformation: zero-touch provisioning, artificial intelligence operations (AIOps) and scalability.

Remote Configuration for Easy Setup and Consistent Policy

Cloud-managed networks enjoy zero-touch provisioning, which simplifies setup when an organization is located in one city and needs to ship networking equipment elsewhere. Typically, that requires an IT professional to fly in and configure the setup in person — a costly and time-consuming task. 

With a cloud-managed network, an organization sends equipment where it is needed and configures it remotely. Onsite staff can set up devices in minutes, and once plugged in, devices nearly ready to go. When a device calls home, it knows which network to connect to, and it implements preconfigured settings. 

Those settings include security policies managed through the network dashboard, including who can access the device and what rights that user has. That enables organizations to maintain consistent security policies across devices and locations. The dashboard also makes it easy to establish multiple policies based on device types, where they’ll be located and how they will be used. 

Monitor and Troubleshoot Networks with AI Insights

AIOps is a capability in cloud network management platforms that uses AI to understand and troubleshoot network health. AI requires a great deal of data, which typically would require hundreds of servers’ worth of computing power on-premises. But because the cloud has unlimited resources, it’s much easier to assemble the firepower needed to generate AI insights.

In addition, AIOps can pull metadata from every network that connects to the platform, so an organization reaps the benefit of intelligence from multiple organizations. The metadata doesn’t include specific information about any network but gleans information about what a “good” or “bad” network looks like. The platform uses those insights to detect when a network is acting abnormally and alerts the organization through the dashboard. AIOps also facilitates troubleshooting by gathering data about solutions that have been effective for similar network problems.

Start Small and Scale Up Quickly with Cloud Management

Traditionally, organizations had to invest in various management components — at significant cost — before they could even get started with a network. For instance, once an organization has a certain number of access points, it typically requires a wireless LAN controller. An organization with 50 or 100 APs will likely need more than one controller for redundancy. With two controllers, the organization will need a network management server; that’s before the organization has even built out the network itself. 

By contrast, cloud-managed networks remove all of that build-out from the equation. The wireless controllers and network management are all in the  cloud. An organization can start with one device, connect to the cloud, and begin managing and building its network. Devices are managed in the cloud, with the same benefits as those that connect directly to onsite wireless LAN controllers and network management servers.

From setup to troubleshooting, cloud-based networks add ease and flexibility that can help organizations move digital transformation forward.

Story by Sven Rasmussen, a team lead for enterprise networking at CDW.