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The Rise of Networking in the Executive Mind: Brad Casemore on the Altitude Podcast

In the past, the network was like the plumbing of a business – out of sight and out of mind until something goes wrong. However, as Brad Casemore, a former IDC analyst with over 30 years of experience in networking and connectivity, and Woody, former Azure Global Black Belt turned Altitude Podcast host, discuss, the network is now more akin to electricity – it’s running every critical system, and you get a monthly bill for it. The network is no longer something you can ignore.  


In this fascinating discussion on the Altitude Podcast, Brad shares what factors have contributed to the rise of networking in the executive mind and how businesses can respond to ensure continuous optimization for security, visibility, and scalability. He also touches on the promise and pitfalls of AI in networking. Here are the highlights from the episode. 


Why Networking is Becoming Increasingly Critical 


As Brad explains, “The network is more critical than ever. It is like a utility.” Why? Because now the network connects not just employees in an office but partners, customers, and applications across multiple regions and multiple cloud service providers. Whereas an outage used to cause modest disruption, now it can bring the business to a halt – and have an immediate stock market impact too. The network is no longer just supporting IT functions; it is “the digital nervous system” of the business, as Brad puts it.  


Optimizing Network Automation  


Although the network is critical, businesses don’t want to constantly manage their networks. This is where automation comes in. Brad emphasizes the need for intelligent network automation throughout the entire network lifecycle so that the network is “continuously available and continuously optimized.” However, Brad notes that most businesses do not approach automation in this way and tend to only think about Day 1 automation.  


Instead of focusing on Day 1, Brad advocates automating starting at Day 0 then continuing onward and walks through how we can approach automation through each stage. This comprehensive approach ensures ongoing optimization, visibility, and security, allowing the network to scale. “It’s not just Day 1, and I’m done,” Brad states. 



Integrating Network Teams with Application Developers 


While network automation is important, many businesses still rely on legacy networks and applications that can be difficult to modernize and automate. To support modern application architectures, network engineers need to work closely with developers in a DevOps model instead of being siloed. Brad explains, “The operational model must be agile. It must be software-driven. Now, that doesn’t mean that your layer 2 and layer 3 people go away. They become part of that team that is application-driven… You don’t want them disconnected from the process. You want them to understand that the purpose of the network is to support the application-driven business.” 


The Promise and Pitfalls of AI in Networking 


While AI has the potential to help automate and optimize networks in the long run, the technology is still relatively immature when it comes to enterprise networking. As Woody and Brad discuss, AI needs rigorous validation and testing before being entrusted to manage networking. Early AI deployments may have major failures before the technology improves – or as Woody states, “It’s going to have the seventh-grade picture that it regrets.”  


The key is to start small, focus on using AI for specific tasks like natural language processing, and thoroughly audit algorithms before plugging them into business-critical networks. But the long-term promise is there – someday AI could provide major benefits for automating networking. For now, a healthy dose of caution is required. 


Ready to dive deeper into the conversation? Listen to the full episode here 


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