Welcome!

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.


Latest Stories
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
"Coalfire is a cyber-risk, security and compliance assessment and advisory services firm. We do a lot of work with the cloud service provider community," explained Ryan McGowan, Vice President, Sales (West) at Coalfire Systems, Inc., 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.
Effectively SMBs and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance requirements. The most recent are Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU's GDPR have Board Level implications. Managing sensitive data protection will likely result in acquisition criteria, demonstration requests and new requirements. Developers, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes. In...
CloudJumper, a Workspace as a Service (WaaS) platform innovator for agile business IT, has been recognized with the Customer Value Leadership Award for its nWorkSpace platform by Frost & Sullivan. The company was also featured in a new report(1) by the industry research firm titled, “Desktop-as-a-Service Buyer’s Guide, 2016,” which provides a comprehensive comparison of DaaS providers, including CloudJumper, Amazon, VMware, and Microsoft.
"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.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, 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.
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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 ...
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, discussed what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to delive...