NextGen Networking
Juniper Employee , Juniper Employee Juniper Employee
NextGen Networking
When do you REALLY have to change your networking hardware?
Jun 26, 2013

How long will my current network infrastructure last and when do I have to change it?  Have you ever asked yourself this question?  Do you have to change it for the same reason you did the last time?


In the past, the main driver for network upgrades was media speed.  Who wanted 10MB when you could have a blazingly fast 100MB?  Why settle for Fast Ethernet when you could have Gigabit Ethernet?  SPEED was king. 

And then the discussion changed to more feature oriented discussions.  How about Quality of Service to help manage voice and video?  What about security? At a certain point, it became equally important to have CONTROL as well as speed.  The one limitation was that your software features were linked to your hardware.  You could only get control if you bought all the same hardware.  Control was purchased by the box.  And there are different kinds of boxes with features – switches, routers, server, storage.


And then it got complicated because there were lots of features in each box.  You had to put together lots of boxes to make a network which was really flexible and did lots of different things.  But you could not control everything as a SYSTEM.  It was about trying to control all the individual parts (which might have different features) to perform multiple tasks as a unified whole.


Now you can have a completely new kind of control – orchestrating multiple hardware devices with the same functionality from a single point.  What does that mean?  You can create a system which is orchestrated much more easily because it is federated, distributed and hardware independent. This is POWER!


How do you do this?  With network controllers which are independent of the hardware they direct.  The conductor of an orchestra does not play the violin.  He does tell the violinist when to enter and exit the music.  The controller has a view of all the elements of a working system and directs them according to a larger plan.  This gives you a multilayer system that responds to a single set of directions from an independent source.  The controller can add to the system rather than replace or constrain it.


Do we want to go back to the old days when software control was hardware dependent?  Hmmm…  Would we like to use the same boxes we have to make a single system that we can control?  Do we want a controller that directs the hardware, but is not physically tied to it?  Where is the greatest power for you?


When you do change hardware, what are you changing for?   You might want to ask your current hardware vendor if you HAVE to change your hardware on THEIR schedule to operate as a system. And why? Do they offer options for software that lets you change on YOUR schedule?  If not, why not?


The good news is that you now have options for control independent from your hardware refresh cycle. 

What is the better way to have your orchestra directed?  By an independent conductor, or by one of the instruments?