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Key network issues for 2004

Jan 26, 20043 mins
Data Center

This year, the key corporate network issues will be more philosophical than technological. Network strategists will have to address and answer three questions …

This year, the key corporate network issues will be more philosophical than technological. Network strategists will have to address and answer three questions:

• How will on-demand/utility computing affect my network strategy?

• Can I outsource my networking needs?

• To what degree can I safely use autonomic technology?

On-demand/utility computing will be implemented to varying degrees in companies of all sizes. To make this concept work seamlessly between a corporation and its suppliers, customers and partners, the company’s compute, storage and network infrastructure segments all must be transparently accessible by business applications and users. To accomplish this, the three segments all must have certain inherent capabilities, such as dynamic resource allocation, virtualization, end-to-end policy management, workflow synchronization and standardized XML-based Web service software interfaces.

This year, corporate network strategists must figure out where to locate the intelligence that will make on-demand/utility computing a reality in 2005. At a recent Cisco analyst briefing, it became obvious that instead of promoting convergence with the computing world, Cisco thinks divergence is a viable alternative. The computing world thinks that corporate business initiatives, implemented through application and policy software and enabled by middleware software, exist at the network’s edge. Cisco and other network vendors think the network must be independent, highly intelligent and host application software to securely and qualitatively make IT applications work with users. Does your corporate on-demand/utility computing strategy require a smart network?

The issue of whether to outsource the network has been on the table in the IT world for many years, but the rise of on-demand/utility computing will cause it to receive even more attention. Within this new computing environment, compute and storage resources might be owned, partnered or outsourced. For small and midsized businesses (SMB), outsourcing will become an inexpensive way to offload IT. Part of that offload will be the WAN and in some instances the LAN. Using IP VPN technology, SMBs no longer will have a need for in-house network expertise. For example, the IBM Global Services business unit provides complete outsourced delivery of on-demand services, including network access and connectivity.

In larger corporations, hybrid environments will exist in which on-demand/utility computing is both in-house and outsourced. Most corporations today have some degree of outsourced networking experience using remotely hosted Web-based application servers and remote site managed services supplied by carriers. That experience can be used to determine to what extent network outsourcing is feasible within a corporation. Does your company’s on-demand/utility environment require that you own your network?

The rise of on-demand/utility computing will force network strategists to address the degree of trust to be placed in autonomic technology. In the world of dynamic resource allocation and virtualization, decisions must be made in real time. Fault/outage correction and recovery, and configuration and allocation of resources to meet policy-based quality of service and security requirements must be autonomic. Humans, especially operations personnel, have never been comfortable letting computers manage computers. Will corporate management let autonomic technology into the network to make critical decisions without human knowledge or oversight?

Answering the above questions will not be easy; it will require internal and external analysis and research. No matter what the answers are, these issues must be addressed to set the stage for the implementation of the next generation of IT in 2005.