Choosing Network Infrastructure for Modern Apps and Users
by Christine Cignoli on

With ONUG Fall 2017 coming up next week, we’re taking a moment to reflect on some of the big network changes and trends of the year. So many parts of IT infrastructure are now overlapping, and networking technology is the glue that holds it all together. New demands on the network, with SaaS, cloud and now IoT in the picture, mean that providers are considering software-defined tools and enterprises are buying hardware differently than they used to, according to this story. For network engineers, now is the time to learn more about software and how to analyze performance data from many sources.

For two specific networking technologies that have been discussed for several years now, some key moments could be coming up. Though software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) have been on the radar for at least a few years, it could be the clouds of large carriers and service providers that really spurs their use. Using something like NFV at that large cloud data center scale makes more sense cost-wise, and SDN may also be a better fit in those clouds.

The idea of data-driven networking follows in the wake of software-defined and intent-based networking, both trends in various stages of actual development and use. This author refers to data-driven networking as the practice of putting instrumentation on network devices, and exporting the data to analysis systems. That would mean that IT teams could optimize network forwarding based on real-time network data results. SNMP isn’t fast enough for this kind of real-time control—something we know quite a lot about here at AppNeta, where we’ve gone beyond those older protocols for more modern monitoring.

We came across a good numbers breakdown on network speeds using SD-WAN vs. a public internet connection for business use. It’s an interesting reminder that in this cloud and SaaS-based reality, the delivery path from user to application involves many hops and many data centers. The study in this piece notes that internet response times are highly variable, and that for long distances, private networks will still beat the internet for speed. Who knows whether the internet can someday withstand the pressures of critical applications at a large global company, but for now, don’t get rid of those private networks.

There’s more on choosing the private network option here, with a reminder that MPLS provides a stable, enterprise-WAN ready foundation for businesses. With SD-WAN entering the realm of possibility, the cost of MPLS is coming into question (although its price is now coming down). MPLS, according to recent surveys, isn’t going away anytime soon. IT teams know that its stability and generally high performance are essential for connecting users and apps. It remains to be seen whether SD-WAN and internet connections will eventually push MPLS out.

Till next week, make good network choices.

Filed Under: Industry Insights, Networking Technology