If you have been around IT or technology in general for more than a couple of years, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “The network is the computer.” Often this is mistakenly attributed to Sun Microsystems’ founding CEO, Scott McNealy – when actually it was another Sun visionary, John Gage, who first uttered these now-famous words.
John was oh so right – and wrong.
The relevance of the network as a method of allowing other “computers” to share information seamlessly has grown to the point where it has become nearly impossible to separate the layers of a service delivery mechanism into the “compute,” “storage,” security” or “network” elements anymore. And even if you manage to decompose a service into its functional elements – to what end? To wit, Amazon’s AWS or Google’s App Engine orMicrosoft Azure. Go ahead – rip ‘em apart and point to the layers, I dare you.
In fact, the boundaries between these traditional IT layers have become so blurry that it’s hard, very hard indeed, to indentify a leading vendor in any one layer that doesn’t also play (and play well) in two or three others. Cisco – a networking only company? Not anymore. EMC – storage, sure, but lots more too. The list goes on and on.
What does this have to do John Gage being almost right? Simply put, it’s the fact that as we build, buy, rent or mash-up services today, we’re leveraging the IP-based network as far more than just a computer – the network (or networks) is actually the platform that serves as the foundation for the next generation of IT service delivery. The network is the platform.
But in any service based on network, there is always one component exchanging information with another component (be they physical, virtual, or a mix of both…) – or said another way, a source and a destination. When you plot out this communication and understand how the information moves and what types of conditions it must contend with as it moves back and forth, you quickly arrive at another fundamental: the network path.
I’m excited to be here at Apparent Networks because “path” is important. So important that the Apparent team has developed an entire solution around enabling you to understand and manage your network paths – regardless of where they go or what travels across them.
Please join me on this blog in the future as I share more about the previously invisible link between service source and destination- the network path.
CTO, Apparent Networks