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Programmable infrastructure and the rise of the hyperconnected workplace


It all started with the software-defined data centre. Then we saw software-defined WAN. Recently, we have also begun to see Software Defined Networking for the branch and campus environments. Now, we’re gong to see all of these come together, and we think they’re going to be managed under a single management tool.

The rise of software-defined data centre networks

In 2016, our Network Barometer Report revealed that companies starting to purchase SDN-ready data centre equipment, with software-defined networking in mind (and partly because it’s cost-effective), but they’re weren’t yet widely adopting automation software. Software-defined data centre networks, at that stage, were still embryonic, with only 1.3% of data centre switches SDN-ready at the time.

Ravi Amangati, vice president of engineering at Cisco Systems Inc, noted recently that “The network is in the middle of a huge disruption that’s happening in the data centre. When compute is being virtualised … applications are using a microservices-based approach, and … networking has to be at pace with all these trends.”

Cisco goes on to note that, to create a modern and responsive infrastructure, IT teams have virtualised data centre infrastructure, from servers to storage to networking. Combined with analytics, virtualisation helps the network stand up to new demands.

The fact is, the focus has rightly shifted to software. Software-defined networking offers simplicity. It offers operational cost saving. Software-defined networking eliminates the dilemmas of the modern computing infrastructure. It allows some of the functionality in the networking hardware to move into software, thereby creating a software control layer that can be programmed. A programmable network can help you save costs and respond to business requirements more rapidly. But software-defined networking can also be confusing if your networking and IT teams struggle to understand the benefits, how it can be applied, and where to implement it. Where do you start?

What are software-defined WANs?

This approach to wide area networking helps manage the new traffic patterns in cloud architectures. Before cloud, data basically travelled back and forth between the user and their data centre. With cloud, the application could be anywhere. So the priority becomes offloading cloud traffic from the corporate WAN as close as possible to the user to give a good user experience. Software-defined networks make it easy to do this. They also give more visibility of bandwidth utilisation and carrier spend.

What’s holding back adoption?

Traditionally, telcos bundled edge routers with carriage, but software-defined WANs decouple the router from the telco. We suspect companies are simply waiting until the end of their present telco contracts before refreshing equipment. There’s also a sense of ‘wait and see’ in the market. The technology is new, and companies seem to be holding off investing until wrinkles are ironed out and opex savings proven.

A lack of accountability contributing to downtime

One of the concerns we hear about from global enterprises looking to outsource network management is the issue of accountability. Who’s responsible when it goes down? It’s not likely that someone is going to lift their hand and claim it. Once the fault is logged, it can take 4-6 hours to find it. Once that’s done, who’s responsibility is it to fix it? This kind of downtime cannot be justified. And yet, excusive accountability with network management has been a myth – until now. This is one of the things Dimension Data proudly brings to the table: accountability. We take responsibility for the network, so you can focus on what you need to do.

How can you get started?

Our Software-defined Network Development Model helps you prepare your network for the future. It enables you to eliminate the dilemmas of modern computing infrastructure by moving some of your networking hardware functionality into software. This creates a cost-effective and responsive programmable network. We provide you with the expertise you need to take the complexity out of software-defined networking, enabling you to benefit from its implementation.

Our consulting experts work with you to prepare a plan that will enable your organisation to successfully implement software-defined networking. We provide you with insights on your organisation’s readiness in terms of infrastructure, operational and management as well as organisational and business alignment.

Through our Model, we give you the right agility, automation, and architecture to achieve your digital business outcomes. Our model delivers:

  • improved knowledge about software-defined networking
  • motivation – identify which areas of your network would benefit the most
  • understanding of its impact on existing IT infrastructure and organisational and business alignment
  • clear vision – identify your business goals and strategy related to software-defined networking
  • a defined ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ state – a roadmap – planning a route from ‘as-is’ to the ‘to-be’ state, which includes recommendations to get started

Plan and implement networking function virtualisation, software-defined networking, and automation with a series of practical steps aligned to your strategic direction. Click here to get started.

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