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‘From: WAN Speak’

A few weeks ago I presented on the state of Software-Defined Networks (SDN) at this years Open Networking User Group (ONUG) conference. During the section on SD-WAN I made a comment that I thought that hybrid WAN was an unnecessary step on the journey towards a broadband WAN. It appears I touched a nerve on that topic — the minute I stepped off the podium I was inundated with people asking to me to explain myself further — so I thought I would give more details.

One of the quotes that Albert Einstein is credited with is: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If that is indeed how insanity is defined then there is no part of IT that is more insane than the corporate WAN. I’ll explain why I say that below.

I moderated a workshop on the topic of software defined WANs (SD-WAN) last month and I’m continually baffled that the focus of software-defined networking remains on the hardware for so many individuals. This is clearly a hangover from the early days of SDN when many of the start ups were hammering home the point that hardware is expensive and businesses should move to a software-defined model and cut capital costs.

Securing the Cloud a Top Concern

I moderated a CIO roundtable on the topic of the cloud several ago in New York. The round table was intended to be a general discussion on cloud strategy but quickly morphed into session specifically on cloud security. The fact that it turned into dedicated discussion on security wasn’t a big surprise to me given the fact that security remains, by far, the top concern for CIOs regarding the cloud. Don’t get me wrong, cloud services are being consumed much faster than premise-based infrastructure or applications but how to handle cloud security is keeping CIOs up at night.

In June I posted a blog urging the incumbent telcos to accept the fact that the era of SD-WANs is here and to embrace it instead of fearing it. The topics of SD-WAN and broadband WAN have been red hot of late, but almost all of the early thought-leadership has been driven by start-ups like Velocloud, CloudGenix, Glue Networks and Viptela. As far as mainstream infrastructure vendors go, Silver Peak has been the most aggressive regarding the topic of WAN evolution, and Cisco has recently oriented its IWAN solution to being aligned with SD-WAN. However, other WAN vendors such as Juniper and Riverbed have been non-existent when it comes to SD-WAN.

The Hills was a popular MTV-produced “reality” TV show that created pop culture icons such as Lauren Conrad, Brody Jenner (son of Caitlyn) and one my favorites, Kristin Cavallari. The theme song from the show was called “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield which contains the lyrics “Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten”. The song is fitting for the show as it features younger people at a crossroads in their life trying to find their way; however, I think the song is also apropos for networking engineers, as the industry sits at a crossroads today. The old is going away, the new is coming in, and network engineers need to think about what to do next with their careers.

Evolving the network to a next-generation architecture is all the rage now. A digital business needs an agile, dynamic network to use as a foundation for innovation, so the network must now evolve. This is one of the reasons my fellow analysts and I are pushing the concepts of SDN, broadband WAN, and Network Functions Virtualization so hard – not evolving the network will start to cause companies to miss out on business opportunities.



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