Building the backbone

Network operating systems have undergone notable changes over the last few years. NME examines the nature of these enhancements, and how they have transformed the way enterprise networks perform.

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By  Sean Robson Published  January 10, 2009

Facing the challenges

The expanding business perspective on the role of IT leads to new considerations for the network as the vital IT foundation. However, the implementation of a new NOS can be complicated by a number of issues.

One of the challenges faced by enterprises is that often times while much of the equipment surrounding the network may be new the actual structure and technology are legacy implementations requiring critical attention.

"These long standing network systems can present roadblocks to achieving contemporary IT goals. For example, the operational requirements to keep the network running - particularly with convergence of applications and increasing congestion levels - may leave few resources for responding to new business demands," says Abbas.

Coupled with this is the fact that the existing solutions might contain inherent complexities that can slow deployment and limit options when new application needs necessitate network modifications.

"While old hardware and outdated or poorly integrated technologies contribute to the problem, it is the software running in legacy networks that most often consumes operational time, causes the majority of operational headaches, and creates the operational obstacles to change," Abbas explains further.

"One problem that can often occur is that of synchronisation. For instance, if you are using a particular exchange and it does not synchronise with the NOS that you want to introduce then components may need to be changed along with the operating system. This can be a headache," explains Rao.

Crystal ball gazing

As enterprises continue to look to grow they are faced with the current economic situation, which requires them to do more with less. This phenomenon has been felt on NOS as well, with IT professionals eager to look at the virtualisation capabilities offered by the latest systems.

"We are looking very closely at virtualisation. And so we are now looking at just which applications we can virtualise, and based on that we select the correct virtualisation NOS," says Guha.

"This will definitely help us to better utilise our servers and improve our physical to virtual server ratio. The knock-on benefits will mean cost savings in terms of energy and space, while at the same time improving on our green initiatives," continues Guha.

"We will definitely be introducing a new NOS in the coming year, and at the moment the hot topic is virtualisation. I am definitely introducing it across a couple of my servers to do a sort of a burning test and if we start reaping benefits then we will move ahead," affirmed Rao.

Aboukhater, too, plans on introducing a new NOS in 2009 in the form of Windows Server 2008 mainly due to its Hyper-V functionality. He also predicts that 2009 will see open source software achieving prominence.

"I do believe that with the current financial situation worldwide and across the region, open source solutions are definitely high on the agenda, for any enterprise" explains Aboukhater.

No matter what looms on the horizon for NOS, it is clear that it will remain a critical element in the network infrastructure with constant development and evolution taking place to meet the changing requirements of the organisation.

NOS - what end-users look for

• Users are looking for a NOS that comes complete with security, as well as built-in virtualisation.

• The NOS they select should meet organisational guidelines regarding appropriate technologies unless there is a specific requirement of a particular solution.

• Compatibility between the incumbent NOS and a new NOS is critical in order to limit any synchronisation issues that may occur.

• Service and support is an important consideration as users look for competent assistance as well as vendors to train staff on the new NOS.

Many users are committed to the adoption of off-the-shelf solutions before going into development in order to eliminate both cost and complexity.

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