Enterprise Networking 101: Our Top 5 Posts to Teach You the Basics

Networking is part of the foundational infrastructure of digital businesses—Here’s a primer to help you understand the essentials

Enterprise Networking 101: Our Top 5 Posts to Teach You the Basics

The average person doesn’t spend much of their day thinking about computer networking. But networking is essential to our daily lives in countless ways—it’s a fundamental part of the underlying infrastructure of our digital world. Networking is the way data is exchanged and transported between computers, devices, servers or other parts of an information system. When networks slow down or experience outages, applications don’t work, customers have bad experiences, workers lose productivity, and companies lose revenue and business opportunities.

For enterprises, networking is fundamental in the digital age. In fact, in many industries—from financial services to transportation to healthcare—highly available networks are critical for ensuring safety and even saving lives.

Here at Equinix, we have people who spend pretty much all day thinking about computer networking, and we’re constantly innovating to deliver the network infrastructure businesses need. So, if you’re curious to learn more about enterprise networking, here are some of our top blog posts on the subject from the networking pros.

1. What is latency?

Data has to be transported from point to point over a network—for example, from a user’s application to a remote server and then back to that application as a response. It’s always traveling across some geographic distance to do so, and there are hard limits on how fast it can travel thanks to physics. This means some delay is an unavoidable byproduct of distance.

Reducing network latency—the delay that occurs when a system has to wait for data to complete its transit—is a high priority for businesses seeking to optimize the performance and speed of digital applications.

How do you reduce network latency? Well, you can reduce it some by designing a network for maximum efficiency—for example, by transporting data using more direct routes, with fewer hops. But ultimately, the best way to keep latency low is to shorten the distance data has to travel over network connections. Digital edge strategies are helping organizations do just that, by placing infrastructure closer to data exchange points, end users, devices and partners.

To learn more about latency, read the full post: What Is Latency and How Can You Address It?

2. What’s the difference between network speed, bandwidth and throughput?

There are many factors that can influence network performance. To understand computer networking, you need to grasp some common terms that describe how data moves in a network:

  • Network speed measures how quickly data is transferred from one system to another.
  • Network bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transferred per second. This is the capacity of the network—think of it as the size of the pipe data travels through.
  • Network throughput combines network speed and bandwidth, referring to how much data actually transfers over a period of time.

In addition to distance, there are a variety of factors that can affect latency, including the number of hops the data has to take along its route, large packet sizes, network jitter or network congestion. Also, data doesn’t always travel across the most direct route. Point being: there’s a lot to think about if you’re trying to optimize your network and reduce latency.

Read to full blog post to learn more: Network Speed vs. Bandwidth

3. What is interconnection?

In today’s digital economy, enterprises, partners and service providers rapidly exchange data at locations around the world. Interconnection refers to this private exchange of data between parties, whether one to one, one to many, or many to many. Compared to the public internet, direct, private connectivity offers faster, more reliable, more secure connections.

For many enterprises, exchanging data through the public internet involves unacceptable risk and unpredictability, whereas direct, private connections provide opportunities to collaborate and exchange data with greater privacy and control. Interconnection also supports connectivity among the robust ecosystems involved in modern business transactions.

Given the latency challenges that can arise from distance between exchange partners, proximity helps interconnected parties reduce latency and deliver better experiences. At Equinix, interconnection has been our core business since our beginning, more than 25 years ago. We’ve helped thousands of enterprises shift away from centralized infrastructure to interconnected architectures built around globally distributed traffic exchange points.

Read more about interconnection in the blog post: What Is Interconnection?

4. What is virtual networking?

Networks can consist of physical cables and hardware, or they can be virtualized, using software management to connect computers. Virtualization makes networks more flexible and simplifies management. Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are two key capabilities that support the move toward virtualized networking.

  • SDN is an approach to network management that uses software controllers to communicate with networking hardware. SDN abstracts the control plane from the data forwarding function using APIs to relay information.
  • NFV replaces proprietary network hardware appliances with virtual machines (VMs) that use a hypervisor to run network functions. So instead of physical routers, firewalls, load balancers and SD-WAN gateways, you have the same network services provided by virtual network functions (VNFs) running on generic hardware.

SDN and NFV can be viewed as interdependent virtualization capabilities. NFV provides the basic networking functions, while SDN covers management of the overall network. Equinix offers the world’s largest SDN-based ecosystem, connected through our software-defined interconnection solution, Equinix Fabric®. And Equinix Network Edge—our VNF solution, integrated with Equinix Fabric—offers a wide range of VNFs from leading vendors.

Read the full blog post to learn more about the similarities and differences: SDN vs NFV: Understanding their differences, similarities and benefits

Or dive deeper into NFV architectures: Defining the Elements of NFV Architectures

5. What’s the role of subsea cables?

Submarine cables are part of the infrastructure used to send data around the world. Physical cabling has been an important part of telecommunications throughout its history, well before the internet. And it became an important shared transmission medium for the public internet. Thus, subsea cables are and will remain an important part of networking infrastructure.

As data volumes increase and the demand for global bandwidth grows, new subsea cables are being built and others are being adapted for modern networking requirements. There have recently been new subsea cable landings in emerging markets, and we can expect to see more expansion in the coming years. Not only that, but subsea cables are evolving to offer greater sustainability and security.

Modern subsea cables use fiber-optic technology and are augmented by other transmission media like satellite and laser systems. It’s all part of the global networking infrastructure that makes enterprise networking possible.

Read the full blog post to learn more: The Future of Subsea Cables

In an increasingly interconnected digital world, networking is sure to remain a critical part of the infrastructure that drives digital businesses forward. Equinix offers a range of networking solutions to help enterprises expand capacity, connect to new providers and add locations. Whether you’re trying to solve for multicloud networking, architect your SD-WAN or connect securely to your ecosystem partners, Platform Equinix® is a great place to optimize enterprise networking.

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