Idris Vasi, Managing
The current key trends are rooted at the intersection of Internet, Mobile and Rich Media. The fastest growing sectors include cloud, unified communications and collaboration, mobility, consumerisation of IT, everything ‘as-a-Service’, SDN, IoT/M2M, etc.
On the Enterprise IT side, we are witnessing a drastic evolution of enterprise VPN services to satisfy a pent up demand. Over the last decade, enterprise VPN services have not changed much but within the same time frame we have seen wide adoption of cloud, BYOD, video and virtualization. The Wide Area Network (WAN) infrastructure within these enterprises is struggling to manage these new requirements. Costs are high, infrastructure is rigid, and the cloud performance is poor. Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) provides a solution to these problems by building an agile WAN infrastructure that is cloud managed, provides secure connectivity over any link (MPLS, Broadband or wireless), and most importantly provides application-aware routing across the network to maintain SLAs for critical apps.
Cloud has become an integral part of the IT infrastructure. Globally we are seeing many companies move most of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. For IaaS/PaaS&SaaS these are easy. The bigger concern arises for issues related to security and performance.
With regards to security, since these elements do not sit within the data center, how does the enterprise prevent it getting compromised? Part of the answer lies in L4-L7 security and the other part in how networks are architected to handle cloud traffic. Is traffic encrypted at the network level, is the cloud traffic maintained on a separate network segment. The second problem is performance. Networks were built to efficiently handle traffic to the data center, but they fare poorly for cloud-directed traffic. The answers to both these issues lie in modernizing network infrastructure to be more agile and adaptive to cloud applications. That’s why SD-WAN has been one of the fast growing use cases for SDN.
The IT Leadership Change
The days of managing by diktat are behind us, especially in technology start-ups. Leadership today means first of all integrity, leading by doing, being decisive, hiring well, enabling open communications and collaboration within and between disparate teams, setting stretch goals and managing by results. Most technology companies today operate with a global reach, either from an R&D, manufacturing, operations perspective or from a customer base perspective or all of the above. Thus, today’s leaders also need to have a global outlook and the ability to be inclusive in leading and supporting diverse teams.
A recent project I was involved with, in my last company, included deploying a new Mobile Core Network for a new nation-wide 4G deployment in one of the ASEAN countries. This was cutting edge, as it was the first core network in the region based on NFV; i.e., we were deploying a Virtualized Mobile Core. A key reason for Virtualizing the Core, besides cost savings and optimization was ‘Service Agility’ and ‘Adaptability’. The key take-away from this Core transformation was the need to link business and IT strategies and plans. Since NFV is highly complementary to SDN, this linkage of IT as an enabler of business strategy should be the main driver for any enterprise looking at transforming their networking infrastructure via SDN and centralized control elements.
Transforming Future Strategies
In a nutshell: Simplicity, Security and Scale. SDN, Cloud, XaaS, IoT, open-computing, virtualization, everything mobile, democratization of information (including social media) all trend towards some combination of the three ‘S’.
The proliferation of data (encompassing audio/video as well) on both public and enterprise networks will be further accelerated by IOT (and sensors) going main-stream. IoT benefits will progress from home-networking to public safety to public health and all aspects of life, and we’ll see applications ranging from trivial and annoying to life-saving and everything in between. This continual data explosion and the trend of working from anywhere will put further strain on networks and particularly on backbones and the WAN. In such an environment, Enterprises will be looking desperately at eliminating complexity and increasing centralized control by further embracing Software Defined-WANs.