Editorial

AI’s time is here — wipe out your networking headaches.

Watch below Compnow’s Andrew Charles speak to Juniper’s Networks Australia’s Vice President & General Manager, Bruce Bennie about the evolution of enterprise networking with AI.

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Written by Andrew Charles, Director. Government, Commercial & Enterprise at Compnow

Networking and security as we know it is on the way out. What you need from networking and cyber security — how its procured, deployed and maintained — is changing before our eyes. Performance levels and governance are being driven by cloud and the smart delivery of AI and machine learning.

Machine learning is stripping out networking’s failure points across design, deployment and operations. And, critically, it’s freeing up head count that was tied down just trying to keep the lights on.

Regulatory compliance is also a key driver. The introduction of laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is reporting on and auditing data loss in the fight back against the cyber crims. And tech offerings that have been born from AI, like Darktrace, can take into consideration human behaviours and get ahead of staff illegalities.

Dropping back to some essential history and why AI’s time is here. From an ops perspective, CIOs are running networks that are fundamental to the business. Predominantly, these grew organically to hold information on prem in highly complex LAN, WAN and data centre mixes involving multiple vendor solutions. The move to cloud networks had to become more scalable and flexible. Networking and security are now intrinsically linked. In the enterprise, we’re seeing CIOs and CISO’s having to get their heads around environments with 100–150 network and security tools — as well as finding the people to run them.

For most of us we became aware of generative AI with the rise of Chat GPT. Bruce Bennie, Juniper Australia’s VP & General Manager, Australia & New Zealand, has been working with Juniper’s development team on their own forms of generative AI since the middle of the last decade. Bruce is extremely excited about its amazing potential to help just about all businesses no matter what vertical you play in.

If you have been keeping an eye on the latest tech trends and acquisitions you will have heard that HPE has just recently acquired Juniper. This is certainly a huge play by HPE and the market will welcome it. This is due to the amazing cross pollination that will occur across their two technology stacks.

Bob Friday the mastermind behind Mist AI and Aquisition by Juniper in 2014, envisaged a new approach to Networking. Juniper has now taken its Wi-Fi stack to the next level and has seen its AI in this space driving the smartest and most efficient solutions available in market today. And its supporting generative AI driven Agent Marvis, is the icing on the cake for a networking vendor that is always in Gartner’s furthest right-hand Corner. This is not hype. Juniper’s 10 year investment is delivering real outcomes for end users as it gets ahead of problems before they’re escalated to a service desk.

Juniper Networks in the right-hand side of all Gartner’s magic quadrants.

Figure 1: Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure. cnow.link/gartner-report-2022.

Getting ahead of your network and security problems with Juniper. In speaking with Bruce, he explained that Mist AI was acquired by Juniper for its WiFi access point technology and AI advances that now drive every one of its platforms. It uses a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science techniques to dramatically simplify network operations and optimise user experiences. The latest SASE based, MDR driven environments are pushing network evolution to the next level.

According to Bruce with Juniper’s Mist you configure only one set of wireless access points, and the others will self-configure using a cloud interface across an enterprise WAN, or even a large campus. And Juniper Marvis, one of the first generative AI network assistants, brings conversational AI to networking, transforming the way IT teams interact and work with large complex networks.

Traditional silos are being broken down by the adoptions of a cloud first architecture. This is enabling AI’s productivity. AI’s power comes from the ability to gather data about the network from all the telemetry that is available — its WAPs, firewalls, switches, and cores etc. Juniper not only manages that integration but has seen that security is paramount across every element of the network. Bruce says security is pervasive and all the areas of Juniper’s stack have security built in. And CISOs are loving it.

Why Compnow is your authoritative AI partner. Juniper and Compnow have worked together for some time in the networking arena where they’ve seen our great approach to customers. Bruce came to us to expand Juniper’s delivery of AI solutions in Australia. He says they were looking for partners who were proven change agents; who understand the application of innovation to solve customer challenges. Bruce is very impressed with how we’ve taken on AI and our recent great wins in retail, government and education certainly highlight this.

We are very adept at distilling the best fit partners. From our perspective, Juniper has a level of sophistication that’s extremely exciting to us. Its channel program fits well with Compnow and our large sales and engineering teams as we use their programs to skill up.

On the AI network journey with Compnow. It can take 200–300 hours to detect and contain a security breach — with an average cost of $4 million. And these are happening daily in every IT environment, of every size. You need to consolidate security tools and the number of vendors you’re dealing with. Does your trusted partner have the required breadth and depth into the OEMs who are out in front of the market?

Recognising the potential for AI, Compnow incorporated it across our 12 pillars of technology strategy that we brought to market over 7 years ago. We feel that AI has use cases across all our 12 pillars and so far this is proving to be correct.

Whether its networks, security, dev ops or devices everything is now being touched or controlled in some way by AI. Working closely with strategic vendors, we have rolled out a SASE based network in Compnow’s operations across Australia. Our end goal is ZTNA or as close to it as we can achieve. Looking at the vendor space, we have no bias. We are friends to the vendors and play a balancing act to offer the most relevant and the best suited solutions to each of our customers.

 

One thing I have to stress when advising any organisation looking to select a partner or vendor is to factor in the delivery mechanism. Before you deploy, are the devices pre-tested and configured, to make any transition seamless? It’s critical that all the logistical and warehousing and deployment capabilities have been scoped and are in place. Compnow has invested millions of dollars in automating the deployment of modern network architectures to assist you to transition without the need for any scheduled network down time. There are very few system integrators that can hold your stock for you in our warehouses and logistics centre for a staged roll out. Whether you’re a school in Melbourne or a mining site in remote WA, we’re bringing exciting solutions to market in 2024 involving MSP SASE style deployment solutions that secure your assets as they leave our organisation and reach yours.

We’ll help you clearly define your goals when looking to modernise your network architecture. There are so many moving parts. What’s mandatory, from a regulatory perspective? What’s nice to have? What’s not needed any more? How do you prepare your environment to move to a SASE based architecture and eventually ZTNA?

The directors driving this strategy at Compnow have brought industry experts onboard of the calibre of Brett Taylor, our Senior Manager of Enterprise Technologies who’s putting together the complex data centre puzzle and enabled us to turn on our first cloud. And lately we have been delighted to welcome Julian Critchlow to the Compnow family, our new Head of Network and Security Sales. To add to this we have over 120 full-time, fully credentialled engineers at your service.

Is AI relevant to you? As Julian says: “Whether you are a school or an enterprise, you’re now dependent on secure networking. And for most, IT is so far from your business focus. AI leveraged networking is relevant to everyone.” Juniper’s cloud platform and its Mist are leading that charge for simpler provisioning of devices and services. Issues are automatically fixed at lower levels, reducing bottlenecks and escalations. It’s what everyone wants, and everyone can access it. Another key player that has just acquired Juniper that you must also keep an eye on is HPE Aruba Networking. HPE Aruba now has the ability to let you tunnel to remote sites without the need to establish a traditional VPN. This coupled with its newly acquired Athonet 4/5G technology will allow to leverage your own private spectrum at very remote locations creating incredibly secure networks just about anywhere in Australia.

“The huge problem at the moment is people. Where you have an AI backed network in a hospital, uni or bank, we’re seeing tickets dropping by 80–90%.”

“99% of AI is being purposed for general good. The concern that it is taking jobs away is not manifesting. What we’re seeing is the freeing of resources; the investment in productivity and people. Because the end user doesn’t even know there was a problem, they have fewer frustrations with the technologies they rely on. And that’ll drive the building of your service first culture.” Julian stated.

AI is ready. Are you? We have cloud data to mine. Algorithms are well established. Networking and cyber security will be AI’s big thing over the next 5–7 years. What do the roadmaps look like for you and your technology vendors? How will AI fit into those directions?

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