The need for a rock solid, mobility-enabled network which reaches users no matter where they are, is an investment priority for many organisations. James Owens, Extreme Networks regional director, Australia and New Zealand provides some tips on how to help enterprises gear up for the next big thing.With the proliferation of mobile users and their devices, within a campus or across continents, the challenges of operating and managing a network have changed fundamentally. The world of IT has moved quickly from a world of fixed to a new world of mobility where everything – people, devices, machines, and applications – is in constant motion. IT must support end users with smart phones, tablets and other wireless devices in addition to wired workstations. The data centre has become the IT beehive with server virtualisation and the promise of cloud services. Users are beginning to define the services that IT must offer as they adopt tablets and their applications, and work on-the-go. They know what they need to be productive, and they expect the network to deliver what they need. CIOs should be thinking ahead and preparing to accommodate more mobile devices, and it is time to redefine mobility. This shift in the relationship between IT, operators and end users implies that mobility is no longer just about the movement of people and their devices. This new mobility carries a far greater emphasis on the portability of information, applications and security. The challenge lies in deploying a network which enables people, machines and applications to communicate seamlessly, across the 3G/4G, and WLAN converged edge, through the network core and into the virtualised enterprise or cloud-based data centre. Seamless challengeAchieving the seamless user experience needed presents a challenge. Today’s workforce is only as efficient as the network that supports it, so when end users are held back by divwsruptions in service, unavailable applications or security issues, their productivity suffers. New mobility requires a network that automatically adapts to many conditions, personalises the user experience and rises to meet ever-increasing expectations. For example, the network needs to follow users and tune itself for security and traffic flows based on user privileges and location. It needs to permit hosting providers to deploy a best-in-class solution based on open standards and avoiding single vendor lock-in. Vendors are creating a new vision of mobility, with networks that are designed for mobility. Customers deploying such technology know who or what is using the network, what resources they are requesting, where they are located, and provide personalised access to approved resources and content – wherever and whenever. The new, smart networks know when an application moves in the virtual data centre and can follow it with a rich suite of network services. And they enable granular visibility and control, so traffic flows are continuous, mobile resources are secure and troubleshooting is a snap.Leading network vendors are also key to smarter ways of delivering managed cloud services. By delivering performance without compromise, they are offering cloud providers standardisation and the advantages that come from a multi-vendor approach. This will translate into an easier sale, easier on-boarding and easier adoption of the services offered by the hosting provider. And that means faster access to revenue, plain and simple.