Blog: New Year's Resolutions for the Network

Every New Year brings tons of hope. We cast aside the old ways and face the New Year with renewed energy and aspirations to do even better than before. Why not do the same with your network? Why settle and continue to use network practices that are riddled with complications?

This year let’s resolve to improve the network just as we do with our personal goals.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions for the network:

 


 

1.   Lose the weight

Let’s face it. We all want to live healthier. However, networks today are littered with middleboxes such as tunnel endpoints, packet classifiers, load balancers, firewalls, transcoders, relays, proxies, caches, and other gateways [RFC3234]. Current networks are bloated. These devices perform unpredictably to network changes, introduce failures, add complexity, and increase costs. We need to get the network in shape. One way to do that is to use session oriented routers that amalgamate all these functions in the router itself.

 

2.  Get organized

We have an overlay overload problem and have introduced unfathomable clutter. There is an overlay for doing pretty much anything in the network. The plethora of overlays include BGP/MPLS VPNs, EVPNs, 802.1 VLANs, IEEE 802.1aq, TRILL, L2VPN, LISP, among many others [RFC7364]. Packets pass through a number of these overlays along the path and they get encapsulated numerous times. We all want our lives to be simple and organized. We need to do that with our networks as well. The network must adopt ways to achieve logical connections with innovative first packet processing and metadata without the requirement for encapsulation of every packet.

 

3.  Spend less

Who doesn’t want to be wise with her/his money? Everybody wants to get more and spend less. This leaves us dough for doing other things. The same with our networks. Current pricing models are tied to nodes. This leads to huge upfront costs. Gartner estimates that enterprises spend on average 22% of their IT budget on networking [Gartner]. When vendors say that they have a pay-as-you-grow model, they mean you can buy licenses that enable different performance and speed. As network usage increases this makes up for any discount that initially existed. We need transformational economics for networks as cloud computing and network usage grows. There should be no costs on the number of instances, no licenses per node, and there should be no costs if there is no traffic.  

 

4.  Learn a new language

Learning a new language helps us break barriers, make new friends, and explore new regions. We need that with the network. The coolest trend in networks today (SD-WAN) enables interconnection of branches managed by a single party. The network needs to connect private and public networks end-to-end in a seamless fashion with multiple parties [SDXCENTRAL]. There is a need to deploy next generation solutions that do just that.

 

5.  Spend more time with family

This keeps us in an environment where we feel safe and loved. With data hacks and network attacks occurring regularly we need to move to a model that the network is inherently secure. Most threats and breaches come from within the organization [Forrester]. Networks must adopt a Zero Trust model [NIST] instead of perimeter security models.

 

Most New Year’s resolutions are difficult to adhere to as we get overzealous when we make them and over-commit. The same is true for making these commitments with improving networks too. The solution must use standard x86 based platforms and leverage open source components. Technical debt and network incrementalism will hinder the ability to keep up with these resolutions [Gartner].

 


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