It seems like only yesterday that I worked with many customers helping craft their ‘Networking 2020 strategy’. Now that 2020 is here, I will avoid the invitingly obvious tagline of ‘Networking 2025’, but nonetheless would like to share some perspectives on what’s next for the network.
It’s clear that the expansion of applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud has been the pivotal technology shift. However, this shift has been viewed only through the lens of the data centre or application hosting. Applications exist to be consumed, and the hosting consideration is looking at only half of the challenge.
When viewing applications in conjunction with how and where they are being consumed, the implications of the move to the cloud are even more far-reaching: end users and devices are changing, mobility has become the norm, networks are shifting to software-defined and intent-based, NBN and 5G are here, the threat landscape has exploded and trust has never been more important.
Traditional Networks: In the pre-cloud era networks were built with an expectation of limited variability across all domains: applications resided in controlled data centres, accessed over controlled WANs, consumed by known users and devices. Security was perimeter-based, assumptions were limited, and SLAs were hard-wired and contracted.
Multi-cloud Networks: Applications now reside in multiple data centres or clouds, accessed over a new mix of WAN technologies with differing performance and assurances. In the campus or branch edge, trust of users, things and devices can no longer be assumed, and performance can no longer be assured.
This shift requires a rethink of how we build the network architecture, operations model and security models.
Network Architecture: In the pre-cloud era we designed networks to carry most of the traffic between users or campuses and dedicated data centres. With the expansion to cloud, this flow of traffic is transitioning to cloud providers rather than data centres. This significant change requires a new dynamic network architecture, providing secure services mobility and dynamic connectivity between users, things, data centres and multiple clouds whilst driving improvements in network operations and security.
Network Operations: Traditional network operations models are under significant pressure due to increasing changes and demand on service assurance and compliance. Whilst the physical topologies may have remained the same, additional changes have compounded over time to create networks that have become too ‘brittle’ to operate and too risky to change.
‘Intent-Based Networking’ (IBN) delivers a new model for operations simplicity by abstracting the complexity of what an operator wants to achieve from how it’s achieved. IBN domain controllers successfully perform this while assuring that the correct change has taken place and that the intent is realised across the multiple domains.
Security: The traditional perimeter-based security model, based in a data centre or DMZ is no longer optimal. As more uncontrolled devices are connected to uncontrolled clouds, more emphasis must be placed on the application of security controls closer to both the user and the application. This has driven a change in trust models, where a zero-trust model must be adopted, across the entire network – securing the worker, the workplace and the workload.
The shifts occurring within the data centre, WAN and user domains are significant and the real opportunity comes when these domains are integrated together in a coordinated and cohesive manner. This integration requires an architecture. Cisco has been developing such an architecture: a multi-domain, multi-cloud architecture that addresses the challenges presented above, an architecture that securely connect any user, on any device, to any application in any cloud.
Check out Cisco’s Network Technology Trends page and download the full 2020 Global Networking Trends Report to learn more.