The Rise In Changing Trends Across Networking Sector

By CIOReview | Monday, December 30, 2013

The recent biggest change in the networking sector has been around the decoupling of software and hardware. Traditionally, with hardware and software being inextricably linked, hardware had to be managed and upgraded in line with the software, but hardware replacement cycles took more time than software, making the two move in lockstep almost impossible. “When you decouple hardware and software, companies have the option to replace either the operating system or the hardware to whatever makes the most sense and is fiscally smart,” says Reza Malekzadeh, VP of business, Cumulus Networks. “This has been a fairly new approach that gained traction in 2013, allowing faster product development, freedom from vendor lock-in and increased efficiency,” he adds.

In the recent past, technology sector has been characterized by an era of cloud computing, virtualization, and smartphones. The key computing trends driving the need for a new network paradigm include increased mobility of the workforce, an increased need for video and conferencing solutions, Big Data and encouraging Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). These have a serious impact on the way the networks are built and designed. Adding to these, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is an emerging architecture that is dynamic, manageable, cost-effective, and adaptable, making it ideal for the high-bandwidth, dynamic nature of today's applications. “2013 was the year that Software-Defined Networking–at least as a concept–went ‘mainstream’. But it’s still an emerging concept that can go in a number of different directions. The deployments have lagged, partly because of solution readiness but also because adoption of SDN is more than simply buying and deploying technologies,” says Michael Bushong, VP of Marketing, Plexxi Network.

SDN architecture decouples the network control, enabling control to become directly programmable and the underlying infrastructure to be abstracted for applications and network services. Thus, it addresses the fact that the static architecture of conventional networks is ill-suited to the dynamic computing and storage needs of today’s data centers, campuses, and carrier environments. “It’s interesting that with all the marketing efforts from vendors, analysts and different consortiums the reality is that many enterprises are confused on what exactly SDN really is,” adds Mark Randall, SVP of Avaya Networking. “Clearly, SDN is an initiative that has the potential to create a massive shift in any industry,” he says. However, it is still too early and there is still some education that must be done by the industry as a whole to bring customers from the interest to evaluation and deployment phases.

Although SDN is certainly the biggest trend to hit networking, the impact Cloud is having on IT cannot be ignored. Leading the race as the fastest growing segments in the industry, cloud computing continues to be an important trend as IT looks at different options for delivering applications to their end users. Many companies leverage Software-as-a-Service today, and are in various stages of deploying private cloud environments.

Between SDN and cloud services, there is also a new trending edge within the IT industry when it comes to the usage of Linux. “We believe that Linux will dominate conversation in 2014 and that Linux will continue its penetration in the data center based on the flexibility that new tier-2 devices are bringing to network architecture,” notes Malekzadeh.

Ironically, similar to previous year, IT budgets continue to decline. “One of the challenges faced by many CIO’s is that the majority of that budget (many analysts estimate up to 80 percent) is allocated to just keeping the lights on. Unfortunately very little of the budget is directed towards innovation,” says Randall.

As 2014 brings about new trends which includes industries option for virtualizing their data centers, customer spend will go down as the rise of software-centric networking shifts the responsibility of innovation from equipment vendors to developer communities. In addition, the decoupling method is also providing customers more choice and opportunity, forcing vendors to provide less expensive but better solutions.

Even as the computer and networking market continues to grow globally, they are constantly fuelled by enterprise computing and the proliferation of mobile communications devices, giving the market a whole new edge towards better and faster solutions pertaining to the networking sector.