- Cisco Nexus 1000V (1KV) – free Cisco virtual switch
- Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) –platform to monitor/manage the Nexus 1000V; DCNM is free to fully manage 1KV
- OpenStack – open source cloud management platform
- Quantum – open source network API part of OpenStack
- Open vSwitch (OVS) – open source virtual switch
- OpenDaylight – open source SDN controller largely led by Cisco
- Floodlight – open source SDN controller led by Big Switch
- Open source hypervisors
- Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) – running network services on VMs; offers the ability to evaluate almost any network appliance without ever meeting a sales team. Good or bad?
- Public Cloud – offers a business to get applications up in no time; complete agility; usage based pricing, etc.
- NIC level Firewalls – firewalls that sit in front of each virtual NIC; explicitly stated as precursor to next few bullets
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) –Will laptop be next?
- Evolving network provisioning and automation through Arista’s ZTP, Cisco’s POAP, Chef, and Puppet
- Cloud Management for Campus Solutions – think Meraki-like management; bringing up wireless networks has gotten easier over the years. I’m inclined to say deploying WLAN will continue to get easier. Add in LAN switches here as well through Meraki-like interfaces or SDN controllers and it changes staging, configuration, and deployment of both WLAN + LAN environments.
The next few technologies/trends may be further out, but can have significant impact on the industry. If the web scale companies are the Enterprise beta users, we should expect to see some adoption of white box/commodity solutions hit the Enterprise within the next 12 months.
- Open Compute Project (OCP)
- Commodity/White box (ODM) servers
- Commodity/White box (ODM) network switches
- Cumulus –network operating system built for white box (ODM) switches
- SwitchLight – open source virtual switch; can run as a vswitch or control stack on physical switches similar to OVS; led by BigSwitch
- Optical in the data center – from combining electrical/optical on the same platform to leveraging optical circuit switches. Take a look here (pdf) to read more about it.
- Intel Reference Design for SDN switches
- Intel Software Stack for Switches – via Wind River acquisition
- Good read: Open Compute Project’s impact on networking
What’s my take?
- IT is in the process of changing – it’s not coming in 3-5 years; it’s here now, but the changes are so gradual, sometimes subtle, and in select vertical markets, it’s not visible to the whole world. Remember, this is my opinion.
- How often do we see vendors or analysts talk about how these trends together will affect IT, the network, and the data center? Think Cloud + BYOD. My thoughts on this next.
- All Enterprises, small and large, will become Service Providers – we only talk about the data center now, but the Campus is already “under construction” with BYOD. Maybe we’ll see user based overlays in the Campus, maybe we won’t. I wrote about this here. Check it out if you haven’t already.
- Once BYOD is the norm, the way we design networks will change. Think about that. See previous and next statements.
- The Enterprise data center will become one big DMZ for what remains on prem and doesn't go to the public cloud via IAAS, PAAS, or SAAS. Over the years, I've heard the biggest risk is being attacked form within; maybe a rogue employee, but more practical, maybe a virus, Trojan, or malware of some sort. Still, 80% of network security I see is on the Internet Edge. Does that make sense? Secure each and every server as if it was on the Internet – this becomes easier with new forms of security solutions like NIC level FWs, and of course with application level security.
- Once Cloud Management (M&O: vCD, OpenStack, CIAC, etc.) becomes easy to deploy off the shelf, this will have a huge impact in the Enterprise. I recently heard someone talk about selling the value of a particular server in a cloud in a box offering, but is that type of offering really about the server, converged infrastructure, or about the agility gained for the business? If M&O does its job, things will change.
- Scale out architectures – it’ll be okay of a device fails and the business will not even know; the IT staff will quietly swap it out for a new one. This should be true for network, network services, compute, and storage.
- Network services will run on x86 compute and will scale on demand
- Can you imagine scaling a control plane of a Core chassis based switch by using VMs? Hardly, but why not? There is only so much CPU, disk, and memory on a Supervisor engine – could it be possible to off load certain tasks or functions to VMs to prolong the life of a Sup or introduce new features? Interesting.
- I recently had a conversation with a white box vendor. Pricing aside, they can provide a full IP stack with OpenFlow support on the hardware. You can also deploy another vendor’s software stack. They don’t care. They even specifically mentioned BigSwitch’s SwitchLight as being available to load up on their switches. They went on to tell me customers in my area, large F100, are already talking to them and buying their kit. That definitely caught me off guard. They don’t have a channel today and it didn't seem like they have short-term plans to develop one, but if they did…
- Major name brand players (maybe not current incumbents, but they will be name brand) will have reference architectures for combining hardware + software for network deployments even without SDN (no openflow) meaning hardware from Vendor A and software/OS Vendor B. Vendor A, B, or C can provide the controller should an SDN deployment be desired.
- Customers have access to a lot of cheap, free, and open source technology. Will the new and younger generation feel empowered to DIY, test, and play? If so, usability and manageability will be more important than ever going forward.
- For those who don’t DIY, offering complete solutions will still remain valuable. As I've said before, we should expect to see new and emerging companies productize solutions that combine, as an example, their own fork of OVS, OpenStack, and OpenDaylight.
- I've reviewed a lot here, but now go back to Brian’s questions and see if you think you may be answering them differently in the future, both short term and long term. Can the future value chain help you or hurt you?
Am I living in a different world? I hope so.
Note: About 6-7 years ago, a customer of mine who had worked at the same company for over 20 years who was always striving to make a company-wide impact, not just IT, said to me if you are not trying to make that big of an impact, what’s the point? That may not have been it verbatim, but I walked away from that thinking big and looking out for the greater good for my team, organization, and company. I had always been a person to hope and dream, but being a young and naive SE, it was refreshing to hear that from someone who had been around for quite some time. I try and remain young and naive, but now with more knowledge of what’s real and how others think.
What trends are you seeing? Please let me know. I need more to think about.