Technology Disruption is here to stay. Is your network ready?

 In Blog Posts 2016

Last week, when I walked into our office, I found myself quickly whisked away around a fortress of cardboard boxes, past the server room, and dragged over a zillion cables and a cat to find myself in a room where a headset and goggles were strapped to me and a pair of wireless controllers were shoved in each hand.

 

I had been reluctant to try virtual reality (VR), despite all the hype in our office around our latest toy. I have never been much of a ‘gamer’ myself, probably because I could never get one-up on my older brother playing 007 Bond on Nintendo 64. Now I’m showing my age.

I wore the headset for about fifteen minutes. In that time, I travelled to outer space, dove underwater and looked a giant whale in the eye, painted in 3D, went on a snow trip and learned how to shoot a bow and arrow (nailed it, btw).

 

I don’t like being wrong, but I have to admit it… I was impressed. VR is pretty darn cool, and unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It also got me thinking about disruptive technology.

 

I mean, really think about it. How insanely disruptive is the current technology-driven transformation of business? Consider this:

 

  • The world’s most lucrative accommodation company, Airbnb, manages no buildings.
  • The world’s fastest-growing transport service, Uber, owns no vehicles
  • The most influential media company, Facebook, creates no original content
  • The two leading retailers in C2C (eBay) and B2B (Alibaba) own no stock and control no inventory.

 

It’s clear that technology is overturning traditional business models and familiar tactics to create a competitive advantage. The potential for disruption is so far-reaching that some are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 

And, according to Juniper Network’s Mike Macellin:

 

“At the heart of these changes is a new generation of networks and platforms that connect businesses to workers, customers, suppliers and markets quicker than ever before and with greater efficiency. These technologies also make it possible to collect and analyse data on an unprecedented scale in order to drive innovation and decision-making at an ever-accelerating pace.”1.

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The network has always been a transformative technology, but in the last few years, it has become a little stagnant (a switch is a switch is a switch… right?).

 

However, vendors like Juniper Networks and Silver Peak are stepping up. These companies are announcing innovations in the networking space that could really make a splash and transform the networking game as we know it.

 

So how do you evolve your IT infrastructure for what comes next?

1. SD-WAN:

 

Software Defined WAN tops the list of disruptive network technologies. SD-WAN has the capacity to completely transform the network model, slash connectivity costs and produce a true ROI for organisations. Furthermore, it is being largely driven by start-ups.

 

So, what is SD-WAN? It is essentially an overlay technology that allows enterprises to flexibly and securely connect users to applications via the most cost-efficient source of connectivity available. This enables enterprises to augment or replace MPLS networks with secured broadband Internet connectivity.

 

SD-WAN ROI targets the OPEX enterprises spend on Telco provided MPLS links by delivering a secure, controlled and optimised overlay across much lower cost enterprise grade Internet links.

 

The end result? Organisations happily reap the rewards when it comes to security, availability and performance. However, the sweet spot comes down to SD-WAN’s policy-based automation and centralised management tools, which radically reduce the costs of rolling out new sites, new policies and making changes to the WAN.

 

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2. SDN and NFV:

In a private cloud environment, applications and desktops are increasingly being virtualised at an unprecedented rate and scale. As the number of virtual machines (VMs) increases, organisations are beginning to realise that automation and orchestration is no longer just “nice to have”.

 

A technology shift in networking from hardware to software has finally taken place thanks to advances in today’s whitebox networking and developer tools. It is this shift that catapults all SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation) technologies – software can finally be decoupled from the hardware. These advances are certainly disruptive, and organisations who are embracing SDN and NFV are reaping the benefits:

  • Enable Innovation:Giving organisations the power to create new types of applications and business models and create new revenue-generating services.
  • Reduce CapEx: Allowing network functions to run on off-the-shelf hardware.
  • Reduce OpEX: Supporting through the increased programmability of network elements to make it simple to design, deploy, manage and scale networks.
  • Deliver Agility and Flexibility: Allow organisations to rapidly deploy new applications, services and infrastructure in response to a changing market and competitive demands.

 

 

3. ATI: Adaptive Threat Intelligence 

In a constantly changing environment underpinned by SDN, NFV and virtualisation, the most effective method to deploy network security will no doubt be through automation and orchestration systems. The capability of organisations to integrate these systems will become the key feature for robust network security in the future. Also, the ability for organisations to detect, respond and prevent threats with real-time threat intelligence will be critical.

 

 

The potential benefits of the technologies mentioned above is tremendous. However, so are the challenges of implementing and managing them effectively. One thing we can certainly be sure of is that the networking industry is transforming from a hardware-centric approach to a software-driven model and if your business isn’t prepared to adapt and engage, it may not reap the benefits. Even worse, it could potentially be left behind. Disruptive innovation in technology is here to stay. Embrace it.

 

 

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