The “Back To The Future” movie series is one of my all time favorites. These movies wonderfully illustrate how our concepts of “normal” change with innovations and the passage of time. When the Internet exploded in homage on October 21, 2015, I too watched in nostalgic wonder as fans reflected on the predictions offered nearly 30 years ago.
These movies were released at a formative age for me. Consequently, I was forever impacted by wild imaginations of time travel. Just last Halloween I dressed up as Marty McFly. So, when a teacher eventually told me that time travel was scientifically impossible, I’ll confess it kind of crushed me.
Perhaps time travel isn’t possible, but bending time and space certainly is. Take the microwave oven for example. You can actually make dinner in a few minutes. (Yet, even still, some of us silently yell for it to ‘hurry up’). Better yet, bending space and time is a fundamental part of being members of the telecommunications industry. During most of our human existence, the speed of communication was tied to the speed of an animal. It took months for a simple message to traverse long distances, which severely limited its relevance. Relay innovations like semaphores and the Pony Express improved this time-lag from months to days, but were expensive. It was the electrical telegraph that finally shortened the time from months to minutes and revolutionized economic, social, and political landscapes eventually leading us to the conferencing, telecommuting, and distance learning applications that are common today.
You can imagine my excitement when Juniper Networks introduced our Cloud CPE solution at NXTWORK 2015. We not only split the “Internet” atom, but we also bent space and time. In the past, it took months to roll out simple connectivity to a new business location, which frustrated businesses and service providers alike. Complex hardware was procured, tested, put on a truck, and installed by a technician. If new functionality were desired, this laborious process would be repeated. Imagine if protection from a new security threat was required. The remedy would be applied long after the damage had spread. Irrelevant. Inflexible. Inefficient.
With the new Juniper Contrail Service Orchestration and NFX platforms, we expect the problem will be solved with automated virtualization. A Cloud Enabled Enterprise can reduce service rollouts from months to minutes. From truck rolls to mouse rolls. From coordinating rolling upgrade schedules at branch locations, to united instantaneous functionality everywhere. This dramatic altering of time and space offers the agility to bring in new normal; service mixes that are user-defined and application specific, no more waiting for a technician to show up between the hours of 8am and 3pm, elimination of ‘branch downtimes’, ability to start small and grow big, and the availability of “big IT” even for the little guy.
I still wish I had a time machine to jump forward thirty years and look back on the industry today. And even though that teacher long ago told me it was impossible, I’ll still keep the quest to invent the “flux capacitor of networking” alive in my heart. So with that, it’s Back to (innovating) the Future.