It's The Year Of The Network

March 6, 2013
Joe Weinman

In 2013, many businesses are struggling with massive shifts in technology. Lopez Research believes mobile, cloud computing, big data and analytics will change the quality of information and the pace at which business leaders can make decisions. As mentioned in the interview with John Considine, cloud computing has disrupted the existing value chain and creates new opportunities for adaptable services. For another angle on the topic, I asked Joe Weinman, the Senior VP at interconnection and data center firm Telx, to provide his predictions for 2013.

As far as the cloud is concerned, 2013 will be the year of the network, according to Joe Weinman, who is also the author of Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing. He cites recent acquisitions of software-defined network and network virtualization pure-plays by existing cloud players as proof points. Some believe that ‘the cloud’ somehow implies ‘the Internet,’ but he claims that emerging network technologies will complement the Internet to enable new cloud capabilities. Having flexible, intelligent compute and storage requires greater flexibility and intelligence in both data center and wide-area networks, he argues, driving an evolution to pervasive intelligence across endpoints, clouds, and networks, calling into question the view that the network should just offer “dumb” transport. Software-defined networks will provide some of this flexibility by separating the control function from data forwarding, but there are additional capabilities emerging, he says, such as intelligent switching of wavelengths, the ability to mix dedicated bandwidth with best-efforts networks, and application layer network traffic optimization, e.g., peer-to-peer file sharing from the nearest idle location. Some of these capabilities are not new in and of themselves, he says, but tight integration with storage and compute coupled with ease of use and programmability will be.

In addition, he has argued for years that hybrids are not just a temporary solution, but can provide an optimal balance of cost and flexibility. Hybrids can be a mix of legacy systems, newer architectures, and private clouds in enterprise data centers together with service provider offers such as colocation for custom resources, micro-nodes, hosted private, virtual private, and public clouds, he says, arguing that such architectures require a rich set of network capabilities to integrate into a seamless whole. Moreover, he points out, enhanced online and mobile experiences require rich interactions, in turn implying both higher bandwidth and lower latencies. He foresees that today’s consolidated mega-datacenters will be increasingly complemented by a networked fabric of smaller data centers that can be closer to customers, which will be important in enhancing interactivity while reducing cost in a broad variety of verticals, such as financial services, healthcare, and media, entertainment, and gaming.

Is it the year of the network for your business?

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