Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Sal Fernando, Nate Lindstrom, Dana Gardner

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

SDN Journal: Article

Networks and Sky Chairs: How Dumb Pipes Are Relevant Again

At long last, the network matters again

American comedian Louis C.K. once observed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that "everything is amazing and nobody is happy." And you know what? He's right.

He riffs about people complaining about the uncomfortable seats on a plane - despite the fact that they are partaking in the miracle of human flight.

"You are in a chair - IN THE SKY," he says.

But it is human nature to take such things for granted once they become the norm. Nowadays if you're watching YouTube and the high-resolution video struggles to buffer without pause, there's a good chance you'll skip that video and move on to another one, or another site. The same goes for any over-the-top or cloud-based services. If opening a file, email or video has even the slightest of lags, we are quick to jump to judgment on the service as "too slow."

The reason the complaints occur is because the network, for the most part, hasn't mattered in the minds of anyone for the better part of a decade.

It's so simple to forget where we'd be without the network. But imagine a world without it now and the chaos that might ensue should it be taken away.

If your email goes down or your connection to the server is severed, then you can kiss your productivity that day goodbye. Your whole working world comes to a standstill, and you are forced to revert to taking notes with pen and paper, and forced to only be able to communicate by phone - as long your phone is not running on VoIP.

Now let's take that and put it into a larger context.

There is literally one submarine cable that connects Bangladesh to the outside world. In 2012, that cable was severed and network connectivity was crippled. Simple things that frustrate us because they take a few seconds to send (an email, a picture message) were essentially halted on a national scale until the cable was fixed.

We are so used to being connected now that we are often ill-prepared for when we aren't. But ironically, it's this need to always be "on" that has led to the network fighting back into relevance - and then some.

The emergence of Software-Defined Networking, the mass adoption of Ethernet, a reliance on the cloud and the advent of the consumer "app" have altered our expectations of network connectivity and have driven the evolution of the network into an application in its own right.

The "dumb pipe" is dead, replaced with an on-demand network platform that combines compute, storage and "connectivity" to enable smarter service delivery.

This has been driven in large part by applications such as Netflix, Hulu and Dropbox. The role of the network in these instances is to ensure the customer experience is seamless, and it does so by managing the quantity of traffic and quality of the connection to ensure the integrity of the application. This makes the network more important than ever before - it needs to be smarter, and it is.

Those applications are, by Internet standards, "old news"; the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Things, whichever term you prefer, is what the network is working toward now. Recent Gartner research estimates that 26 billion "things" will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

The consumer benefits are pretty clear, but the Internet of Everything will also benefit organizations. A State Department of Transportation, for example, can take advantage of a fiber-optic network to support the use of smart devices that relay information on roadway conditions, such as traffic, weather, and speeds, in real-time and give travelers and transportation agencies the ability to respond accordingly.

To enable the mass proliferation of the Internet of Everything, the network will need to be more intelligent and programmable because the traffic will become more unpredictable. The network of the future, to be able to handle this demand, will need to scale to meet sudden spikes and do so seamlessly. Capacity will need to be on-demand, and the global network will need to intelligently re-route traffic along more efficient routes to do so.

For example, let's say viewers in New York wanted to binge-watch House of Cards, Season 2. That is well ahead of the prime time viewing for, say, Los Angeles. A programmable network will be able to take slack capacity from Los Angeles streamers during an off-peak period and "lend" it to New York to cater to the sudden spike in traffic, which would ensure Service Level Agreements are met and that the customer experience is maintained.

In addition, an intelligent network would be able to predict that spike before it happened and begin the process in advance.

Network operators are deploying this network of the future now. The idea that bandwidth can be accessed on-demand is close to fruition, with operators envisioning it along the same lines as compute-on-demand and storage-on-demand.

At long last, the network matters again. It matters again because we are forcing it to matter. We want a chair in the sky that's more comfortable, and we are on the cusp of getting it.

More Stories By Malcolm Loro

Malcolm Loro is Director of Industry Marketing at Ciena Corp., the network specialist. He has responsibility for assessing Ethernet Business Service market requirements, identifying and developing compelling new market opportunities and driving awareness of Ciena’s Ethernet solutions. He has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry holding a number of previous engineering, product management and marketing positions at Catena Networks and Nortel Networks. Malcolm holds an Honors Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
With over 720 million Internet users and 40–50% CAGR, the Chinese Cloud Computing market has been booming. When talking about cloud computing, what are the Chinese users of cloud thinking about? What is the most powerful force that can push them to make the buying decision? How to tap into them? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yu Hao, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, answered these questions and discussed the results of SpeedyCloud’s survey.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.
Actian Corporation has announced the latest version of the Actian Vector in Hadoop (VectorH) database, generally available at the end of July. VectorH is based on the same query engine that powers Actian Vector, which recently doubled the TPC-H benchmark record for non-clustered systems at the 3000GB scale factor (see tpc.org/3323). The ability to easily ingest information from different data sources and rapidly develop queries to make better business decisions is becoming increasingly importan...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
To paraphrase someone famous, "The definition of insanity is to do something the same way over and over again and expect a different result". Humans are creatures of habit and when it comes to storage, old habits die hard. Why do we continue to put our faith in legacy storage providers when they haven't invented anything new in decades. Sure, they re-badge their products every couple of years to make their messaging look modern, but ultimately, it's the same old stuff with a new coat of lipsti...
StarNet Communications Corp has announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 PC X server. The new modules enable X-Win32 to safely tunnel the remote desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. Traditionally, users of PC X servers deploy the XDMCP protocol to display remote desktop environments such as the Gnome and KDE desktops on Linux servers and the CDE environment on Solaris Unix machines. XDMCP is used primarily on comp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...