With all the changes in IT infrastructure with the rise of virtualization and cloud, networks are under tremendous pressure. The networking industry is evolving rapidly to keep up and focusing more on software than traditional hardware speeds and feeds. For networking pros, this means a lot of new options and changes in the way they go about their work. Network Computing recently met with Ethan Banks, CCIE #20655 and co-founder of Packet Pushers, to get insight into key emerging trends in networking. Here are his top four.
While the industry is still waiting for software-defined networking to reach mass adoption in the enterprise, software-defined WAN continues to be red hot. As Banks, an Interop ITX Review Board member, explains: "SDN broadly hasn't turned into a single thing or a new networking paradigm. It's become a bunch of specific use cases….SD-WAN is the best single example of success in that space."
"Software-defined WAN is a real thing people can buy today and it brings them value," he said. "It all goes back to the core value proposition, which is the ease of use. You can make a complicated wide area network that's a mix and match of carriers and circuit types and you can layer on top of these circuits a complex policy that identifies specific types of treatment for different applications and then distribute that policy from a central point out to all your SD-WAN forwarders."
"That's a win. You won't have to deal with a lot of complex routing policies. You gain capabilities to go beyond normal routing policies. There are many cost models to choose from, depending on the vendor. You can manage it all in the cloud in a lot of cases," Banks added. Moreover, companies can save money by not having to rely as heavily on their MPLS provider.
Automation and orchestration
Another hot emerging networking trend is automation and orchestration, Banks said. As enterprises stand up containerized applications using Docker or orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, networking elements are automatically provisioned, he said. "When you stand up a Docker container, you can hook into an existing networking function that's happening under the hood. Docker is doing a lot of stuff for you."
On a similar front, companies like Illumio provide automated security functionality for infrastructure like containers, Banks said. Instead of a writing security rules based on IP addresses – which doesn't scale with the ephemeral nature of virtual containers – new technologies allow for automated security rules based on metadata.
Orchestration and automation (which orchestration leverage as a tool) do some of the "nitty-gritty work that you would have to do by hand as a network engineer, he said. The big question is whether these new technologies will change the way companies – especially midmarket and small companies do business-- he added.
With the growth of hybrid cloud, companies are looking for help with connectivity between their private and public clouds. "A lot of this is cost driven. You may start in the public cloud and need to bring those workloads back to your private data center," Banks said, explaining that a company may want to reduce its cloud provider costs. "How do you do that smoothly?"
Technology from vendors such as Nuage Networks automate the connectivity between a company's on-premises data center and their public cloud resources. VMware also announced a partnership last year with Amazon Web Services that provides connectivity between public and private clouds by offering its software like NSX on AWS, he said.
Visibility and analytics
For years, network monitoring and analytics tools have been pulled data from the network, but the telemetry movement is changing that, Banks said. Vendors are now pushing lots of data from the network infrastructure and using their own big-data analytics tools to generate trend information.
Juniper, Arista, and Cisco are sending telemetry from their network equipment into local analytics platforms, he said. Cisco telemetry can be ingested by its Tetration product, while Arista uses its CloudVision technology. Juniper has an open-source platform to analyze telemetry that it's made available on GitHub called OpenNTI.
Banks also cited ThousandEyes, which uses global data gathered across its entire sensor network from all customers to provide individual customers with better insights as to the root cause of their issues.
You can hear more about emerging networking trends from Ethan Banks live at Interop ITX in Las Vegas. Banks will present the "Packet Pushers Future of Networking Summit" with Packet Pushers Co-Founder Greg Ferro. Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19.