Modern Networking Technology Takes Center Stage for IT in 2018
by February 9, 2018

Filed under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Here’s a helpful explainer on intent-based networking, which we’ve heard a lot about from Cisco in the past year or so. The idea of intent-based networking is essentially to bring a kind of automation to networking, but an automation that takes into account the complexity and rigged-together nature of many networks. Intent-based networking aims to model ideal outcomes rather than mucking around with lower-level scripting and other control procedures. In practice, this may be something like a graph database of network objects and connections that could be programmed so that business and infrastructure changes would be reflected as they happen. One Gartner analyst has identified the four features that define intent-based networking: the possibility of automated implementation, the ability to translate business policies into network configuration and design, ability to take network telemetry information in to maintain the desired status, and the possibility to change network behavior automatically to meet the desired model. So intent-based networking isn’t just a buzzword, though more mature products and adoption still seem a ways off.

Better network management is sorely needed by many IT teams. Recently released TechTarget survey data found that networking technology tops the list of IT priorities for 2018, with 21% of respondents naming it as their top priority. Following very closely behind was IT automation, at a little less than 21%, and hybrid IT/cloud at 20%. Within that networking technology category, network management and monitoring are top priorities, followed by VPN and NAC needs, then DNS/DHCP monitoring and management. The top technology actually being deployed is network virtualization, which includes SDN and related solutions. At the same time, these IT teams are moving to a hybrid cloud model, with 44% say they plan on this deployment model this year. These findings reflect what we are hearing from prospects and customers, too, and why many are finding our modern monitoring the right tool for the complex job of managing network infrastructure.

On the topic of network virtualization, here’s a look at what network functions virtualization (NFV) is and how it works. The idea is that modular network software running on standard servers will be able to better serve IT teams trying to manage a complex network infrastructure. There are a few key components in NFV architecture: a hardware/software platform to run network apps; the apps themselves that provide the various network functions; and a management and orchestration framework. Some considerations for IT teams thinking about NFV probably already exist in-house: these include high-performance servers and virtualization software. They’ll also need to research and choose NFV orchestration architecture and the application layer. Of course, this is a big decision, and without product maturity, NFV deployments can be hard to scale and integrate into existing systems.

On the topic of adopting software-defined technologies, here’s a tutorial on setting up an SD-branch office—a remote office location that uses SD-WAN technology to simplify the networks supporting that location. This is becoming a more realistic option for more businesses as SD-WAN vendors add features to their platforms. Managing remote locations isn’t easy for IT when there’s no IT support at those locations, so the idea of a single software platform running all network functions is appealing. This software-defined platform can also replace the clutter of legacy devices that exists at many remote offices or locations like retail stores, banks or medical offices. Like other transformative network technologies, the quick-deploy SD-branch probably isn’t quite ready today. Keep an eye on the market though if you’re struggling to maintain control over remote location performance—and take a look at AppNeta’s monitoring tools too.