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3 Predictions for 2013

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Dan Joseph BarryBy Dan Joe Barry

From Communication to Management

Over the last decade, we have seen the expansion of Ethernet and IP from the enterprise into telecom, financial, federal and manufacturing networks. The debates over whether IP/MPLS and Ethernet were the right technologies for communication are over. IP routers and Ethernet switches have prevailed.

At the same time we have seen the Internet evolve from a communication and entertainment platform to a commercial and business-process automation platform with the emergence of cloud services. Having an online presence is now as much a priority for businesses as having a physical presence. It is not a question of whether you are using the Internet, but how you are leveraging it to support your business model.

In other words, the communication puzzle has been solved with Ethernet and IP. What remains is understanding how we manage Ethernet and IP networks to support the business processes we are trying to implement online. What remains is the network management puzzle.

In 2013, we are going to see an increased focus on network management. It will come in many guises, such as end-to-end network visibility or quality-of-experience management or customer experience management. But what will be common for all these discussions is the underlying realization that we need to understand how Ethernet and IP networks are behaving, in real-time, to better plan and optimize business processes as well as reacting to issues and, more importantly, opportunities, as they occur. Better network management means better insight. Better insight means agility. The agility to react decisively.

From 1G to 10G to 40G to 100G

The communication puzzle might be solved, in that we know it is Ethernet and IP that have taken the day. But the issue that remains is how fast these networks need to operate to keep up with demands. Carrier networks, in particular, are seeing surging traffic growth generated by smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Cloud service providers are also likely to see traffic growth above the ordinary. 2012 saw the first wave of mass transitions from 1G to 10G, but also the first implementations of 40G Ethernet networks. 2013 will see an increase in these trends with 100G Ethernet emerging.

From a network-management perspective, the stakes have increased considerably. This is a LOT of data to manage, travelling faster in your network, giving you less time to react. Thinking ahead will be paramount in 2013, ensuring that the right network communication and management infrastructure is in place that can scale to meet demands.

Is 2013 Too Early for SDN?

With planning beginning for 100G networks, will software-defined networking play a part in these considerations? SDN is the hype topic of the moment and if we follow the Gartner hype-curve theory, then the “trough of disillusionment" should begin in 2013. But with 40G and 100G networks presenting a host of challenges that will demand a rethink of how networks are planned and operated, SDN concepts can play a part in these considerations already next year. This can drive development of more mature solutions and network management of these solutions in particular.

Will SDN buck the hype-curve trend and avoid the “trough of disillusionment"? Time will tell.

Daniel Joseph Barry is VP of marketing at Napatech,  and has more than 17 years experience in the IT and telecom industry. Prior to joining Napatech in 2009, Dan Joe was marketing director at TPACK, a leading supplier of transport chip solutions to the telecom sector.

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