Two days ago, I spent ample time with a fellow techie with immense experience in.Our chinwag was the hullabaloo about the “New IP,” an emerging concept transforming networking, and how it will shape businesses in the future.As a business driven person, my interest were clear.The network edge isn’t always a physical place anymore as much as it is a set of activities. It’s where the user interfaces and interacts with an application, it can be a datacentre, a home office, or the beach.He started by explaining to me that even though the application lives in the cloud or in the datacentre, users can be anywhere they want to be, and the network edge moves right along with them. As a user interacts with data or an application, the services and policies that control the interaction need to be applied.In his understanding, the actions vary based on who they are, where they are, and what network and what rights they have. For instance, he shared with me how an African countries policies are being applied and expressed through network services such as routing, firewalls, and Quality of Service.There is no doubt that, just about any service can be virtualised, so where this wrapper of policy occurs can be anyplace, just like the application and the network edge is wherever this activity is happening. To understand the New IP, it helps to contrast it against the Old IP. Old IP networks are hardware-centric platforms, vendor-driven systems, and closed and proprietary components. Although the Old IP was instrumental in building out the Internet, my blud said it is falling far short of meeting the needs of the “third platform” technologies like cloud, social media, mobile, and big data that are rapidly shaping the IT landscape today.
Indeed, organisations interested in embracing the New IP need to begin by looking at their business strategy, because the network architecture should follow from justifying the business.Policies in that African countries(cannot name it as he is under an Non Disclosure agreement) will be pushed to any device with compute capability. This is where virtual edge software and services will fit into the picture, often called the virtual Customer Edge in United States or virtual Customer Premise Equipment in Europe, depending on the type of deployment by the Telco or Service Provider for that particular customer.In the case of virtual Customer Premise Equipment, where he is handling a project for a multi nation firm, a stack of equipment, such as physical routers, firewalls and load balancers are being replaced with virtualised versions of these services that can run on existing servers.In the case of virtual Customer Edge, the Service Provider merely provides a simple network connection with all the services pulled back to a central location in the Service Providers’ cloud-based data centres. According to him, one immediate benefit of this architecture is that it will drastically reduce what we call in technology “truck rolls” to customer sites to install hardware-based equipment when requested and having to physically visit the customer site again to retrieve the equipment when no longer required.These savings alone can more than pay for the server and virtualised network services at each site.In addition, because these network services are software-based and virtualised meaning they can be deployed pretty fast from a central location, increasing customer satisfaction and revenue for service providers.It has been described as one of the key concepts of the New IP as it is software-driven with a setup inherently designed to foster innovation and experimentation.
The software foundation of the New IP gives programmatic control over complex tasks, tight integration with business support systems and high-value end user applications, and the freedom to develop strategic techniques for accelerating business growth. It’s an inherently agile platform that goes beyond support for current developments to embrace future’s innovations, while maintaining strict adherence to business and security policies.
A quicker way to embrace the new edge and the New IP in general is to make sure that the edge devices have capabilities to support software-defined networking, a key element of the New IP. Software-Defined Networking is defined as computer networking that allows administrators to manage network services by abstracting lower-level functionality, so that business applications can dictate how the network should respond, based on the application requirement. Abstraction is the method that reduces complexity.The ability to manage these devices through OpenFlow and an Software Defined Network controller provides a great foundation for programmability.In the future, it will be increasingly important that edge devices support Software Defined Network protocols such as OpenFlow, as well as management protocols such as sFlow, to programmatically control the physical edge.There are plenty of ways to get started on the New IP journey, and the network edge provides a great area where real business value can be added.By reducing vendor lock-in, standards-based products enable choice that increases flexibility while reducing cost and complexity.Such benefits could help accelerate the rate of business innovation.Overall, our chinwag was an eye opener….for tech industry dinosaur.