Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo, TJ Randall

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
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, discussed how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your aud...
Get deep visibility into the performance of your databases and expert advice for performance optimization and tuning. You can't get application performance without database performance. Give everyone on the team a comprehensive view of how every aspect of the system affects performance across SQL database operations, host server and OS, virtualization resources and storage I/O. Quickly find bottlenecks and troubleshoot complex problems.
President Obama recently announced the launch of a new national awareness campaign to "encourage more Americans to move beyond passwords – adding an extra layer of security like a fingerprint or codes sent to your cellphone." The shift from single passwords to multi-factor authentication couldn’t be timelier or more strategic. This session will focus on why passwords alone are no longer effective, and why the time to act is now. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Chris Webber, security strateg...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are a leader in the market space called network visibility solutions - it enables monitoring tools and Big Data analysis to access the data and be able to see the performance," explained Shay Morag, VP of Sales and Marketing at Niagara Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for s...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are a custom software development, engineering firm. We specialize in cloud applications from helping customers that have on-premise applications migrating to the cloud, to helping customers design brand new apps in the cloud. And we specialize in mobile apps," explained Peter Di Stefano, Vice President of Marketing at Impiger Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.