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IDC: Cloud, mobility exposing limitations of existing networks

Software defined networking could be the answer

By , Network World
May 09, 2013 02:24 PM ET

Network World - LAS VEGAS -- The combination of highly virtualized environments inside enterprise networks, along with an explosion of mobile traffic, are exposing the limitations of existing networks, and driving the need for a new era of dynamic and scalable networks of the future, IDC researchers said in a panel discussion at Interop this week.

"Cloud and mobility are the two key paradigm shifts when it comes to enterprise IT networks," says Rohit Mehra, IDC VP of network infrastructure. "[The network] was static and reliable, and it met the needs of IT. That needs to change now. Why does it need to change? Because of the explosion of traffic."

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There are a variety of factors that have led to traditional networks becoming increasingly incompatible to serve the needs of enterprises today.

-More devices (mobile)

Mobile traffic is flooding enterprise data centers at the edge. In 2010, 45% of enterprise workers brought their own devices into the workplace; today, more than two-thirds of workers are accessing their enterprise network from their personal devices, IDC says. It's not uncommon for individual enterprise workers to have three to four devices; IDC predicts there will be 30 billion "connected" devices by 2020, both wired and wireless. Meanwhile, users expect mobile connectivity to be ubiquitous.

-More applications (video)

Video traffic created by applications like YouTube, combined with social and collaborative services like video conferencing, are contributing tremendous amount of capacity on to networks. The rise of big data, with a need to quickly get large amounts of different types of data across the network for it to be analyzed, puts pressure on the network too.

-More on-demand access (cloud)

The rise of cloud computing has created expectations of the network being always-on and always available, especially for cloud-based resources. These include compute and storage services at the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) layer and applications being hosted in the cloud at the software as a service (SaaS) layer, such as Salesforce.com. Inside data centers, enterprises are warming to the idea of embracing the cloud. An IDC survey found that 68% of spending is on in-house traditional IT this year, but in two years that is expected to drop to 62%, with increased spending in public cloud, off-premises private cloud and internal private cloud, all of which require always-on access. East-west, or server-to-server traffic, along with virtual machine mobility, and the rise of multi-tenancy in cloud are straining traditional internal network designs. Vendors are moving beyond 10 gigabit per second Ethernet switches, and into 40 and 100 GbE now to support it.

All these issues combined together have "exposed the limitations of the network, which tend to be more inflexible," says Brad Casemore, IDC research director for data center networks. The emerging technology aimed to help solve these problems is software defined networking (SDN), which at the most basic level means decoupling the control and forwarding planes of the network, allowing it to be more dynamically scalable.

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