by Lee Doyle
At the most recent Open Networking User Group (ONUG) Conference, halls were buzzing with discussions regarding the expansion of open IT frameworks and how companies will move forward in managing them. Organizations like ONUG are critical in assisting IT managers by providing a framework to evaluate network management tools and a vision for unified network visibility.
Automating Management of Open Networks
Leading IT organizations are rapidly adopting cloud centric architectures and converged development operations (DevOps) teams to accelerate application development and reduce costs. This centralized orchestration and monitoring of the network is a critical element in allowing organizations to automate application delivery and performance management. An open network management architecture is required to implement a standards-based, multi-vendor network infrastructure and to significantly reduce network operation costs while optimizing application performance.
Rise of Open Networks
The IT industry has been significantly impacted by the rapid adoption of open source software (e.g. Linux and OpenStack) and associated tools that allow IT professionals to rapidly and inexpensively develop new applications. The DevOps style of application development requires rapid provisioning, scalable resources, and automated operations in order to deliver IT services in a flexible design.
Networking must adapt to this fundamental change in IT operations by leveraging highly adaptable, cost effective, open platforms. The largest IT buyers, including the hyperscale cloud providers, telecom service providers, and the Fortune 500, all demand that vendors embrace open network technologies.
Managing Scalable Networks
Manually configuring each device, the traditional methods of management, can’t scale to meet the demands of today’s data centers. This introduces a significant challenge to networking and the IT industry as a whole. There is simply not enough IT staff to provision and support complex network operations introduced by wide spread virtualization, 30% per year growth in data traffic, and the adoption of 10GB (and higher) standards.
SDN provides the programmability to reduce operational costs by shifting the burden of configuration and management from people to technology via automation. IT organizations need technology to help in architecting the processes necessary to provision the various network services required by an application. Many hyperscale cloud providers (including Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft) leverage SDN technologies to help in automation, provisioning and on-going management of their networks.
Challenges of Network Management
The problem for IT managers is not lack of network management tools, but a plethora of software and hardware elements that solve only part of operational management challenges. These products include: Ethernet switch element management systems, network packet brokers, network performance management systems, and SDN controllers. Security requirements (and the management of network security systems, such as firewalls) further complicate the network environment. As a result, IT managers are challenged to manage networks on an end-to-end basis or to easily provision network resources for new applications.
Recommendations for IT Managers
IT managers are rapidly migrating towards a DevOps style of application delivery and require tools to rapidly configure, provision, and manage a complex set of network, compute, and storage resources. The rise of SDN and open networking is delivering a set of programmable tools to assist with this complex management and operations challenge.
The goal now for IT Managers is to understand how the complex set of network management, monitoring, and orchestration tools can be leveraged into an architecture that provides automated provision and simplified operations.
ONUG provides reference requirements and tests the use of SDN to promote network orchestration and automation. At the most recent event, ONUG unveiled a Services Automation Framework for migration from manual processes (e.g. ITEL) to open, automated management architecture, including a testing methodology for network monitoring products.
ONUG is the leading user-driven community of IT executives focused on leveraging the power of their engineering and procurement to influence the pace and deployment of open networking solutions.
Lee Doyle is Principal Analyst at Doyle Research. Doyle Research delivers quantitative and qualitative analysis, forecasting, and market positioning advice to network infrastructure suppliers, service providers, and IT industry professionals. Previously, Doyle was Group Vice President in charge of IDC’s Network Infrastructure and Security groups, including Enterprise and Datacenter Networks, Telecommunications Equipment, Security, and Infrastructure Services research. For more information see www.doyle-research.com and follow him on twitter @leedoyle_dc.