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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Posts Tagged ‘Software Defined Networking (SDN)’

As someone who has been following enterprise WAN architectures for decades, I find their evolution fascinating, especially the number of new technologies that have been deployed in isolation. For example, WAN optimization and SD-WANs are often discussed as separate solutions.  From my perspective, I can’t fathom why a business would deploy an SD-WAN and not implement WAN optimization as part of it.  If you’re going to go through the work of modernizing your WAN architecture, then why wouldn’t you integrate optimization technologies into your deployment right from the start?

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SD-WANs have garnered a tremendous amount of interest from companies both large and small as they can significantly lower the costs and complexity of running a WAN. As businesses migrate applications to the cloud, they are increasingly embracing the cost advantages of broadband connectivity to connect users to applications. This is being driven not only by the high cost of private WAN circuits, but because backhauling applications’ traffic to the data center is negatively impacting application performance, resulting in frustrated users and sub-optimal productivity. The combination of high costs and poor performance seem like a perfect recipe for market disruption.

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When it comes to WAN architecture, there has been a debate that has raged on for decades.  Hub-and-spoke or fully distributed mesh, which is better?  Hub-and-spoke networks are certainly simpler to design and manage, but the downside is that all branch traffic needs to be backhauled through a central location. Consider a U.S.-based company with a branch office in Japan where a user is trying to access a local website. The traffic would need to go from the branch, back to the U.S., back to Japan, and then back to the U.S., only to be sent off to Japan yet again. This clearly represents an enormous waste of bandwidth and resource, not to mention impaired user productivity.

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It’s my belief that we will look back at 2017 as a tipping point for the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT has certainly been something that most business and IT leaders talk about, but to date, deployments have been limited to key verticals that have been connecting things for years, although we called it machine-to-machine (M2M) before it became cool to say IoT.

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The Gartner Magic Quadrant is certainly the most iconic graphic ever created by an industry analyst firm. Second on that list is the Gartner Hype Cycle. Personally, I find the naming scheme of the elements of the Hype Cycle to be a bit trite, but each phase is fairly accurate.

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At the start of the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Lt. Saavik took a test known as the Kobayashi Maru.  The test was actually a trap to see how someone would handle a “no-win scenario” where any choice made would lead to a bad outcome.  In network engineering, a Kobayashi Maru-like scenario is emerging for those who resist a move away from manual processes.

Embracing Automation is Key

One of my new rules is that “manual processes are the mortal enemy of network operations”. Earlier this month I wrote a post discussing the new rules of running a WAN, discussing how manual processes are bad for the business because they make the network a big choke point for the company, stifling business innovation.

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