As the concept of campus specific networking enters its fourth decade, it has become clear that traditional approaches to campus infrastructure are struggling to cope with the proliferation of new IoT devices, connected applications and dynamic changes to users, their behavior and expectations.
The first two decades focused primarily on wired connectivity for personal workstations and printers with shared access to file servers, e-mail applications and basic intranet and internet connectivity for static content. This drove broad connectivity but required only limited capacity and security based on perimeter policies. From the early 2000s, emerging wireless and IP telephony were typically implemented as parallel solutions, carried in large stretched VLANs or isolated networks with little integration to existing infrastructure and no holistic approach to IP services.
The third decade saw substantial increases in device numbers, demand for ubiquitous wireless connectivity for portable devices and terminals, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and a transition to latency and delay sensitive applications such as voice and video becoming broadly adopted. Cloud-based collaboration and streamed rich media hailed the transition from a best effort connectivity approach towards a true fundamental business enabler. The simple architectures and management paradigms of the early campus struggled to manage the plethora of devices and evolving security threats with limited visibility, segmentation and application awareness.
As we begin the fourth decade, the expectations of the campus network begin to shift once more as the world embraces flexible working practices, a greater reliance on Internet-based voice services and rich video conferencing, on premise and cloud based applications, convergence of legacy IT systems into cloud based IoT mandating zero down-time and unprecedented threats to data security from ever more advanced malware and malicious actors with ransomware putting organizations and businesses out of action for days if not weeks.
In order to support these new demands, a fundamental shift in campus thinking is required.