Rethinking the Network

Michael Bushong

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Top Stories by Michael Bushong

It’s not clear to me whether there is really a conclusion to a technology trend. I suppose that one trend begets another and that morphs into another. So in some sense, discussing the SDN end game is really foolish. It seems most likely that we all stop talking about SDN in another year, maybe two, and the conversation returns to networking. Or data centers, or the WAN, or whatever. And then eventually we talk about IT infrastructure, because it will ultimately become so integrated that calling out isolated elements will seem old-fashioned. That said, let’s talk about the SDN end game a little… For many, SDN is about separating the control and forwarding planes. I’ll just point out that these planes have been separate for years in most modern networking equipment. That they might no longer be distributed within the same sheet metal is interesting but not really tha... (more)

DIY vs DIFY Networking

There is probably never going to be a perfect balance in the industry between Do-it-yourself (DIY) and Do-it-for-you (DIFY) networking. It seems exceedingly unlikely that there is a one-size-fits-all type of solution out there. And so we will invariably end up with a bifurcated market that requires multiple solutions for its constituents. But if there is not a perfect balance, which one of these is likely to see the most action? If you were to base your guess on industry chatter, you would have to conclude that DIY has the upper hand. There is a ton of momentum right now with bo... (more)

Chicken or Egg: Abstraction and Automation

For many SDN and DevOps enthusiasts, the natural outcome of this wave of technological change is a highly-automated network that is well-orchestrated with surrounding systems and applications. One of the prevailing thoughts is that this level of automation is a well-formed abstraction layer. With the abstractions in place, the army of network engineers will be unencumbered by device configuration, and automation will ensure. Or will it? First off, let me say that abstraction is absolutely necessary. There is no doubt that networking will only advance if we can both remove unneces... (more)

The Snowflake Conundrum (aka Why it is Hard to Make Money in Network Management)

Beneath the macro trends (SDN, Big Data, DevOps, Silicon Photonics, whatever), there are more subtle strategic undercurrents that have been driving a lot of the activities in the network industry for the past year or so. One of the most important in terms of competitive landscape, overall industry monetization, and customer impact is Point of Control. But despite its role in so much of what is going on, it isn't getting near enough air time. For the network, the Point of Control is the point of interaction. That is to say that operations teams experience the network through thei... (more)

Long-term price improvements vs. long-term capacity growth

While long-term cost savings will almost certainly be dominated by operational savings driven by automation, there is still a Year One Problem around adding additional requisite capacity to existing networks. Most IT leaders have already gone through the calculations: My network is growing at X% year over year. And that rate is accelerating by Y% year over year. The math is actually not that hard. Throw in some data points, and follow the line that Excel draws for you. Forecast out one more additional year, and price out the cost of that capacity (typically measured as price-per-p... (more)