It’s that time of year when we all start to wax nostalgic and consider our triumphs and trials of the past year in preparation for making resolutions we’ll discard the moment they become inconvenient. Which for me means about 2.5 ms after they pop into my head.
It's also the time of year when I look back on the trends and technologies that are driving (rapid) change in the world of app delivery and security and consider carefully what the next year is likely to bring.
To help me, I’ve got oodles of data from tracking market activities over the past year, as well as the first set of responses from our annual research. And, as if the stars are aligning, everything is pointing to a banner year for “something something networking.”
That means multi-cloud networking and microservices networking.
Though they sound very similar, they are solving two different sets of challenges.
Multi-cloud networking focuses on network latency, data transfer costs between clouds, security policies across different cloud providers, and the ability to scale resources seamlessly across clouds. It’s the underlayment for supercloud and one of the best answers right now to the problems caused by multi-cloud complexity.
Microservices networking focuses on challenges like service discovery (finding where services are located), load balancing requests between microservices, handling failures and retries, and ensuring communication security within the microservices ecosystem. Interestingly, multi-cloud networking often takes advantage of microservices networking – and the innate portability of containers – to deliver workable solutions to the market.
Now, over the course of 2023, I've seen the balance of enterprise app portfolios shift from primarily traditional apps (client-server, monoliths, web apps) to modern apps (microservices and mobile apps with lots of APIs to support both). I've watched as eBPF has risen to the fore and been incorporated into microservices networking to provide a foundation for both observability and security in cloud-native environments. We’ve seen the first iteration of the Gateway API appear, ready to take over from ingress control to answer the challenges of scaling microservices while addressing the need for reliability.
And, of course, who could forget the rise of Generative AI, which serves as an accelerant on the already burning fire that is microservices and APIs? If you haven't noticed, most AI-based apps use APIs to talk to LLMs, which are really big clusters of microservices. Add in emerging augmentation techniques that rely heavily on traditional data sources, and you’ve got a recipe for an explosion of APIs and microservices in 2024. Yes, more networking will be required.
But that’s not all. We’re seeing strong indications in the data that a significant portion of LLMs (AI models, in general) will be deployed in the public cloud as well as in core data centers (on-premises). That's pushing multi-cloud networking to the fore and driving adjacent practices like FinOps into the cloud domain to help organizations determine the "best cloud" for workloads based on cost efficiencies.
The thing is, without multi-cloud networking, it's hard to deploy those workloads – let alone move them – based on costs. The cost of compute associated with traditional and generative AI is a serious concern, we’re learning, and that concern will drive the inclusion of cost-based controls into multi-cloud networking in 2024 and beyond.
All this means that when I look at the data and see “something something networking” are among the top three most exciting technologies, I’m not all that surprised. Moving files around a local network required advances in networking. Deploying apps in the public cloud required advances in networking. Apps integrating with AI services will require even more advances in networking.
In other words, it's a good time to be in the networking space because we're on the cusp of seeing a lot of innovation and exciting new capabilities become part of both multi-cloud and microservices networking.
Yes, networking is cool again, my friends.
Until the new year, stay safe, enjoy the holidays, and raise your glass to the return of networking to center stage in 2024.