Network Insights Beyond Scaling
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is way beyond any traditional concept of networking and provides great insights and guidance for future generations of networking technology. We have already seen the many benefits in our planning horizon. However, what will networks look like 10+ years from now? In this brief update I will explore some of the near-term and way beyond ideas of where NFV and other concepts will take us.
One of the most immediate and exciting approaches for NFV is in the area of scale. We all talk about scalability - scaling up and all around a network topology. Ericsson in their in-depth white paper, Distributed Cloud Infrastructure, outlines how they address scalability and use cases in the approach they call “scale across.” This implies that scale is not just a single approach to network thinking; it suggests that we don’t even have to think about that issue at all!
The network really is “scale-less” in that the network can move in any direction at any time without regard to even thinking about what the network can do now or in the future. Ericsson suggests “developers should not have to care about specific locations on the infrastructure topology when programming an application.” Instead, the deployment phase will include constraints to placement of application components making it part of the operations process. What this really means is not thinking about all the constraints of the network and just “doing it,” as one network expert said.
In a recent interview, he added “the cloud is not in my thinking any more. Nor is policy configurations from the single network element to the network as a monolithic global infrastructure, scale is not a term I use anymore because the network technology provided by Ericsson is doing that for me.” The “scale-less network thinking” approach allows software developers to do what they do best – solve complex problems. Take for example planning electrical grid repair schedules. With this approach, weather information, auto traffic conditions, and other logistical data are seamlessly and immediately integrated to reduce delays, maximize staff time, and create unparalleled efficiency. It removes manual management and analysis so the IT professionals can – without even thinking about it – deploy across multiple states and regionally.
In conversations I have had with other CIOs and other IT professionals I hear the same. They commonly say “we don’t have time to think about scale, we expect it to be there.” This is the future, and we have companies like Ericsson leading the charge to accelerate digital infrastructure.
Summary – NFV gives both network providers and users expanded insights and opportunities for building rapidly, resilient and infinitely scalable networks. Ericsson’s approach takes the worry out of network planning and also provides the means to accomplish it on time and budget.