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Software, security, DevOps and big data: What's in store for networking?

By Catherine Knowles
Wed 10 Feb 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Last year saw organisations embracing 3rd platform computing and new IP networking strategies, disrupting the traditional markets and becoming leaders in new niches.

Moving into 2016, more businesses are expected to leverage smart machines and transformative technologies to give them a clear competitive advantage, according to Brocade.

The networking solutions provider has identified the top transformative technology trends in networking:

The cloud will gain even greater traction

According to IDC, more than half of all IT spending is going to be on the 3rd Platform, otherwise known as cloud-based technologies, and that figure will surpass 60% of all IT spending by 2020.

The migration of old, legacy IP network architectures to New IP networks will accelerate, reaching near-mainstream adoption as enterprises and service providers transform their networks into an open, software-driven platform for innovation and a competitive edge, Brocade says.

Software-based networks are clearly the future

Over the past year, software has transformed the data center and networks in general, with service providers and enterprises turning to Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) to create new services quickly, scale them easily, and deliver them in user-centric ways, says Brocade.

This year will bring about the expanded adoption of innovative, open, and automated software networking platforms as enterprises and service providers migrate to New IP networks.

The increasing deployment of x86 server architecture will accelerate this transformation, replacing specialised networking hardware in multiple network roles, such as Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs).

ADCs have already begun transforming to a virtual (vADC) model to help enterprises and services providers scale capacity on demand to handle peak workloads. Software is increasingly permeating every aspect of this virtualisation transformation, Brocade says.

The importance of security will skyrocket

Organisations operating in today's New IP networking environment face increasing demands for cloud-based applications and need to support social, mobile, and big data initiatives. However, security-related attacks and breaches continue to impede the delivery of services and create additional challenges to network and service reliability, according to the company.

New IP networking solutions allow organisations to deploy more advanced security that is designed into the network from the start, not bolted on at edge to existing infrastructure. The network itself can be pervasively vigilant and track behaviour on and not just access to the network, to quickly identify and prevent unwanted activity, says Brocade.

Security services can be virtualised, enabling organisations to distribute security wherever it is needed and customise security at various levels - by geography or location, function, group or individual, or application, the company says.

DevOps will play a much larger role

DevOps, or any agile software development methodology that closely matches services with business demands, will gain widespread influence and uptake among both enterprises and service providers as a way to ensure they remain competitive.

According to IDC, enterprises pursuing digital transformation strategies will more than double their software development capabilities by 2018. Companies that build and use field-focused development teams that operate without the constraints of rigid traditional product development processes will have a significant advantage in customer-focused innovation. This advantage extends to both the speed of development and to customer intimacy and retention, Brocade says.

Big data and analytics will get even bigger

Organisations that are able to take advantage of the explosion of data will seize the day, and many of these disrupters will be startups that use big data to make strategic decisions based on analytics.

As data gets increasingly colossal, so do the opportunities, skillsets, and demand for analytic and cognitive services across industries. The ability to derive intelligence from big data in real time will create a distinct competitive edge for any business, according to Brocade.

Machine learning takes off

The advent of machine learning is the computing breakthrough made possible by big data. The emergence of algorithms that can learn from and even make predictions based on the enormous amounts of data and meta-data that are generated, transmitted, and stored via networks will change the world of data centers and networks beginning in 2016, the company says.

This process is already underway, as facial and speech recognition are changing the worlds of consumer electronics and the cloud services that use them, and anomaly detection is quickly becoming a crucial part of network security.

The rise of the telco with virtual architecture

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) that have been struggling to keep up with fast-changing customer needs and market opportunities will be compelled to embrace SDN and NFV in 2016.

The risk of falling behind is set to intensify with each passing day as carriers and service providers that embrace change will become the winners in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and 5G race by 2020, the company says.

The technical talent crunch gets serious

Vendors, service providers, and user organisations are all competing for a limited pool of next-generation talent with the required coding and technical skills. The talent crunch issue will become increasingly acute, and organisations will have to rethink their human resource strategies and policies in order to attract, develop, and retain strong talent, according to Brocade.

Technical qualifications that were only recently seen as de facto passports to important positions in networking will change in the face of self-provisioning and self–programming networks. Increasingly, critical networking positions will begin to require advanced analytical and coding skills that are in very short supply today, says Brocade.

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