Can Emerging Network Technologies Solve IT's Problems?
One of our favorite topics around here is obviously network performance. This take on upgrading network performance looks at the big picture of networking today to see where improvements might happen. Throughput and security have traditionally been the two big considerations in network performance, but others now include policy-based approaches, flexible infrastructure and capacity. The general outlook here is that networks are going to keep getting more like other parts of IT today: more programmable, easier to use, more distributed and more open to automation. These shifts should have a lot of benefits to IT networking teams and make it easier to, for example, improve and better manage the WiFi network.
The hardware underneath these network changes is seeing improvements too. This look from Doyle Research at the branch router market finds that many distributed businesses are ditching traditional hardware for software-based routing. Virtual router software, which performs the job of hardware-based layer 3 IP routing, is part of the great software-defined networking shift. This aligns with growing SD-WAN adoption, part of the need for better management of performance of branch office networks. Software routing performance is improving continually by taking advantage of silicon improvements, and software-based routing can run on standard servers. Plus, a real bonus for IT managers dealing with remote office networking is that software-based routing allows for mixed connectivity, so the best tool for the job, whether WAN, MPLS or internet, can be used from one platform.
However, with all these advancements, networking for this new distributed world will likely still be playing catch-up for awhile. It’s not just one-off products like virtual routers or SD-WAN that will bring networking up-to-date, argues this story. Instead, it’s a question of changing the approach that IT has long taken to enterprise networks to meet the needs of hybrid cloud–driven businesses. Network connectivity and scalability are more important than ever to avoid siloes and budget overruns when moving workloads to cloud. A brand-new, purpose-built network probably isn’t a reality for most companies moving to cloud, but a big-picture approach and technical knowledge will help get you there.
Finally, a recent survey of IT workers at the Cisco Live 2017 conference found that cloud adoption is the “most vexing” factor in today’s network technologies complexity. IoT, SDN and NFV follow cloud adoption as the top challenges to running an enterprise network. And as we know well, lack of performance visibility is a big challenge for survey respondents. There’s a lot of talk in the market about machine learning, automation and intuitive systems coming to networking, but for survey respondents, that’s getting ahead of themselves. First, they need to nail down complete network performance visibility, like what we provide here at AppNeta.
Till next week, keep that balance between managing legacy systems and getting to a better networking future.