The 30 Years of Network Evolution, A Three-Part Blog. Part Three: The New Frontier in Layer 2 and Layer 3 - SDN
Well, many of you may be wondering what happened after the network disruption that Cisco did a decade ago. Where are we going from there? Do you still want to stay status quo? If status quo is your answer then look back at the two disruptions I talked about: Remember demise of Novell, the retiring of DEC net and Vines and almost sudden collapse of IBM? Of all the companies that came into the networking arena in the 80s and 90s, IBM still treads on albeit with a smarter approach. IBM still exists because in the days of SNA, many organizations and mind you large financial ones wrote their applications around that protocol. Reinventing the wheel would be a massive task and as such IBM slowly got onto the Cisco disruptive train of the 80s.
All the Right Moves…
Decades of networks that created huge client/server solutions and a technology that, though bleeding, still improvised to deliver their services in the new physical world. Applications were written to meet the available technology and huge investments in the networking gear were made to keep the business rolling. That decade also created some of the smartest people in networking industry and certifications such as CCIE, CCNA, CCDP, etc. flourished. Cisco became a billion-dollar company overnight and controlled the entire network and the destiny of some of the largest industries in the world. They became the darling for the networking industry as IBM was decades earlier.
But then some false steps…
Cisco then followed the path of some of the other TDM networking giant of 80s.. Remember Newbridge! Cisco started building devices for everything that customers wanted to connect to the network and hence they counted the dollars by selling the Ethernet ports.
Meanwhile IT Organizations Feel the Pain and Begin to Adjust
Fast-forward 2000 and the world started looking at their IT infrastructure from a different angle. It became the largest cost item for an organization and it kept on draining money that could have been used for better service development. The first disruption of the 2000 came in the compute industry. Customers invested millions in hardware and kept on investing on them as technology improved and demand for services increased. This created two major problems for the customers:
Running out of space and energy costs. Both these problems carry huge dollar value with them. Genius people came up with the idea to virtualize the compute hardware. Now instead of buying new server hardware, they are able to run a virtual instance of that application on existing hardware. This made sense in the business world as more throughputs was achieved from existing hardware that was invested in earlier.
Compute Virtualization Paves the Way for Networking – Who’s on Board?
As server virtualization hit its momentum, networking vendors realized that it wouldn’t be long before virtualization would creep into networking. How would a networking company with billions in revenue react to such threat? First, ignore it and counter the theories with different ideas using old technology…remember Status Quo. Then embrace it with a disguised open virtualization story that points back only to their unique hardware dependent protocols.Isn’t that a status quo all over again…or was that deja vue?
If you want to be like IBM, accept the disruption and engage in the new way of architecting the network. Wait a minute…did I say new way? What will happen to all the certifications that people have invested in and made careers out of them? Well, these are the same people who may oppose the disruptions in the network layer.
Some companies are fully on Board- and even driving the Train
A few companies in the networking industry realized early on that disruption is inevitable and as such took on the challenge to the bleeding edge of the technology. Brocade is one of those companies that realize that virtualization in the networking layer can speed the delivery of services for any company. Openness, flexibility and the ability to create service profiles and deploy them in the network will let the network adapt to these services and not the other way around.
Welcome to Software Defined Network (SDN)…the disruptor to status quo. For more information about Brocade and SDN read this paper or follow this blog as we continue to outline how SDN can help you achieve your new network of independence and automation in end-to-end application use cases from the data center to the campus edge.