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The network is at the core of every business, yet the majority of today’s networks were not designed to handle the next generation of business requirements. More than two decades ago the world standardized on the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) / Internet Protocol (IP) stack and little innovation has taken place in routing since. Modern networks are built upon the same fundamental protocols established before anyone could envision current demands. This has given rise to an entire industry surrounding routers aimed at delivering bolt-on functionality such as firewalls and load balancers. This approach has resulted in outages and data breaches for businesses as these jerry-rigged networks continue to grow too complex, too fragile and too expensive to deliver the security, control and agility needed for cloud, mobile and IoT applications.

Let’s explore the four critical elements of today’s networks that are making them increasingly fragile and quickly pushing them toward a breaking point.

You’re Relying on Too Many Network Technologies

Today’s networks are a patchwork of bolt-on solutions that run alongside traditional routers that have been created to address new network needs. With the explosion of the internet in the 1990s, improvements to the network only focused on specialized hardware dedicated to improve “speeds and feeds.” Next came the invention of middleboxes, like network address translations (NATs), firewalls and load-balancers, followed a few years later with the arrival of overlay technologies such as MPLS and VPN.

Within the past few years, Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) have emerged as potential solutions to some of the many network complexity issues. While the goal was to be more agile and simplify network management, NFV and SDN approaches still largely rely on overlay and tunneling techniques, which add yet another layer of complexity.

Network Security Has Got You Down

Since the global cybersecurity market is set to grow to more than $170 billion by 2020, it’s safe to say that concerns over network security have reached a tipping point. Firewalls – essentially special purpose routers that bridge a local area network (LAN) to another network – are expected to provide 100 percent protocol inspection and attack prevention for TCP, User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), Transport Layer Security (TLS) as a minimum. Given that the market is moving towards an end-to-end encryption model and that the data owners (those who hold the encryption keys) are not the same as the entities that host the data, firewalls (and other middleboxes that require visibility into packets) are quickly losing their value-add without access to the encryption keys.  Perimeter security models are no longer adequate for modern business demands. Bringing network security to the next level requires that no user, traffic source or connected network should be considered trustworthy.

There Is No Light at the End of the Tunnel

Middlebox, overlay and tunneling technologies all have a common denominator – they increase complexity and introduce more “stuff” for enterprises to manage, connect and finance. Encapsulation or tunnel-based overlay networks such as MPLS, IPSec and VxLAN sit on top of IP networks in order to deliver deterministic routing, network virtualization and segmentation. Rather than being direct solutions to networking concerns, these techniques create overhead, fragmentation, operational costs and scaling challenges – and limit the effectiveness of security and monitoring systems. Businesses are so entrenched within an expensive, increasingly complex web of these add-on technologies, they are stuck relying on workaround technology with no clear path to what could more efficiently address their needs. Companies are in need of a simpler solution that will reduce network complexity and cost.

You’re Invested in Any of the Following: Mobile, Cloud and IoT

The changes still to arrive to the network are immense: 1) IDC estimates that by 2025 152,000 new devices will be jumping, directly or indirectly, onto the internet every minute (or a total of 80 billion connected devices worldwide). 2) 58% of all organizations are already embracing cloud for applications and workloads. 3) Accessing the internet through mobile devices will grow more than 25 percent per year, according to IDC.

Overly complex networks barely meet today’s business requirements, and continue to run thanks to armies of sleep-deprived network engineers, duct-tape and some luck. How are they going to meet the demands of tomorrow? Networks should be more simple and intuitive, while providing advanced security, reliability and performance capabilities. In order to achieve this, the industry needs to rethink traditional networking principles and focus on ways to bring intelligence throughout the network, not on top of it or just at the edges.


Patrick MeLampy is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at 128 Technology

The original article can be found here.

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