NFV and SDNs will make up the cloud

If McLuhan was right, what we know today as "The Cloud" will be resources linked through massively and continuously variable software-designed networks using largely software-defined linking. Your compute might be in Dallas, but let's store the data in Germany where the privacy laws suit our regulatory/compliance needs.

In the bad old days, huge racks filled with "datacomm" equipment and -48v racks of batteries to back them up were anchors in data communications. A big logo sat on the cabinets, claiming space for a carrier. Inside, lots of CSUs/DSUs lived, circuits and monitoring equipment running furiously, and hopefully, 24/7/365.25. The AT&T Cabinet wasn't much different than the Sprint or Verizon cabinet, and Level 3 seemed newer, at least judging by the age of the paint on the rack. Somewhere in that rack was a jack, your jack, fiber, Ethernet, SONET, ATM, and with the jack you were connected to: someplace else.

No more. Not in this model.

The ETSI standards organization gathered the edges of carrier demarcation with the concept of Network Functions Virtualizations (NFV). The functions become the virtualized components located inside the rack, from varying services that carriers and organizations formerly known as datacomm service providers have traditionally offered. Think of this as a total rethink, where all of the discrete parts you've thought of as the magic foam and goo of carriers, re-imagined then reassembled as modular components reflecting discrete services.

Carriers as we know it are about to change significantly by the unbundling of services and functionality of what's thought of as carriers and telcos. The bits and pieces of networking, already becoming rapidly redefined by Software Defined Networks (SDNs), have conceptual sockets connected to carriers' virtualized networking components. What were once dedicated hardware components that rendered a jack somewhere inside your network operations or data center will no longer take the guise of heavily defined physical perimeters.

The successful adoption and adaptation to this rethinking is one more step in the journey towards thinking of the cloud as an unconstrained collection of services, rather than islands of miscellaneous assets. Yeah, there are downsides. We're investigating the ups and downs of massive virtualization, and the long-term implications of vastly distributed resources. What is old is new again.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022