The Digital Network Revolution Is Here
by July 21, 2017

Filed under: Industry Insights, Networking Technology

Check out this research showing how digital transformation is affecting companies with remote and branch offices. The EMA Research study found that 83% of enterprises are increasing their number of WAN-connected sites, and in 84% of enterprises, the number of network-connected devices is also increasing at remote sites. A majority of businesses surveyed—74%—are also making changes around using the internet instead of managed WAN services. About a third of respondents say their biggest challenge to WAN success is lack of skills and knowledge. Nearly half are adopting SD-WAN because they need better application performance. And more than half say they allow remote sites to directly connect to public cloud services—saving time and resources for the central data center. Bottom line: A majority of businesses are well on their way to a next-generation remote office infrastructure.

We came across some nice explainers this week to better understand the many cutting-edge networking approaches we’re hearing about. This one equates NFV with the GPS on your phone. A decade ago, you’d buy a separate GPS system for your car, but now you need just one device to do many functions. NFV now means that one device runs the applications used to control the network, instead of separate physical devices like firewalls and routers. Similarly, SDN can speed up the network by taking care of the configuration process—setup, measure and adjust as needed—using software so it takes minutes instead of months to get the outcome you want. Software-defined is a lot more efficient than human-defined.

Here, PacketPushers compares SDN and intent-based networking to the evolution of farming. Pre-CLI, enterprise networking was like just one person with a hoe. What we’ve got now is a fancy, self-driven tractor that only needs a human for programming, along with setting policies (which crops to grow and when). That’s equivalent to intent-based networking, where an IT team member plans network ops requirements for a defined infrastructure. There’s still room for development, such as in intelligent networks that don’t need human supervision.

And finally, this story examines the current state of the SDN market, with some thoughts about where it’s going next. IDC analysts say SDN has become a “known commodity” and has moved beyond the early adopter stage of technology. A recent survey found that 49% of networking professionals were considering or piloting an SDN implementation, while 18% have already deployed it. There are a couple of key reasons that IT networking teams are using SDN: to get more out of existing virtual servers or private clouds; to allow for network programmability; and to easily add software-based security to the network. What’s next for SDN? Perhaps microsegmentation or IoT management. Only time—and IT needs—will tell.

SDN and SD-WAN are coming