The technology industry operates on micro and meta innovation cycles. The micro cycles happen every hour, day, week and year. But the meta cycle is about twenty years. Every twenty years there is a massive and fundamental disruption that changes not just our industry, but also ripples through every other business and industry to change the way we work, live and play - and we are entering the next meta cycle.
From the mid 70s to the mid 90s, the mainframe terminal and host model was the platform for business innovation. IDC calls this the first platform for innovation. And the network for the first platform was Private Line and SNA.
Twenty years later, in the mid 90s, we began the next meta cycle. The second platform for innovation was Client-Server and LAN/WAN. As a result, we shifted to IP networks. And of course, the most famous of all IP networks is the Internet. At the start of 1995 there were 16 million users on the Internet, 2700 web sites (but you couldn’t buy or sell anything online), and less than 100 million mobile subscribers…but you couldn’t connect your mobile device to the Internet even though most connections were dial-up.
But over the next 20 years the Internet would change every industry it touched.
Today we see the rise of the 3rd platform for innovation: cloud, mobile, social and big data. And the pressures and opportunities created by the 3rd platform are once again changing everything. Gartner says that every business will become a digital business.
But none of this will happen without a new network to support it. The old IP was never designed for the 3rd platform and it's crumbling and cracking under its weight. We need a New IP.
Today there are 2 billion people on the Internet, 1 billion websites (and we buy and sell everything on line) and more mobile subscribers than people on the planet. We’ve gone from connecting places, to connecting people, to connecting things. Billions, eventually trillions, of things. And the one thing about those things is that they love to make data and consume it. You have to store it, manage it, move it and analyse it.
The speed of innovation of cloud service providers like Amazon and Google and the low cost of delivery is creating a relevancy gap for both service providers and IT departments. Every day, users go around them to buy IT services and applications directly from the cloud. User expectations for self service, delivery, and the pace of innovation is rising faster and higher by the day. But the network and IT architecture is outdated and was never designed to meet these needs.
This relevance gap results in a lot of pressure and added stress. But if your budget goes mostly to maintenance on the existing network, there’s no money left over - let alone the time - to re-engineer it. Careers can stagnate as innovation moves into the cloud or small DevOps teams that can iterate rapidly on virtualised infrastructure. You want to be drivers of business innovation and value. You want to meet the changing and growing needs of users, and provide self service tools and do all the things that the cloud service vendors to today. But the old architectures make this difficult... some may say impossible.
Twenty years ago we didn’t imagine a world where everything is in the cloud, application virtualisation, everything going mobile, the Internet of Things, or the big data it all creates….and we never imagined the hackers and security problems either.
The old IP has served us incredibly well - a testimony to its elegance and resilience - and we don’t need to toss it out, far from it. We need to build the New IP off the lessons and momentum of the past 20 years. And we need to design the New IP for the needs of the 3rd platform, for our modern era, the digital business, and for the unique pressures these create.
The New IP
What is the New IP? It’s the old IP reimagined for our modern world, and designed to meet the needs of cloud, mobile, social and big data.
The new IP is both hardware and software… and it has both business and technology benefits.
Let’s compare where we are today, to the promise of the New IP, and then talk about the advantages and implications of this transformation.
The old IP is based on closed, proprietary systems, innovation cycles are constrained by custom hardware and provisioning network resource is difficult and manual. Security is bolted on, inter-operation is achieved through standards, vendors are at the centre of the ecosystem, costs are high and innovation is slow.
The New IP is based on open source, riding on commodity hardware and merchant silicon and provisioning network resource is automated and self service. Security is built in from the start, inter-operation is achieved through open APIs, the customer is at the centre of the ecosystem, capex and opex costs are lower and innovation happens at the speed of business.
And some surprising things become possible with the New IP.
- The data centre goes from the back office to the front door, from a cost centre to a revenue engine.
- The data centre is without walls, it can scale out as easily as scaling up or down.
- The network IS the data centre, and the data centre is the network. The applications, where appropriate, are network aware and the network is aware of the application and its needs. Network services, security and QoS can be attached to, and move with, each application.
- There is no edge to the New IP network, not as we know it today.
- And instead of having to buy everything up front from vendors and bear all the risk of gaining the value of your investment, in the New IP you pay for what you use, as you use it. No contract term, cancel when you want, upgrade at any time without penalty, in fact, never buy another piece of physical equipment if that’s your preference.
The New IP is a modern network, built on your time and your terms. To find out more about the New IP, click here.
Article by Gary Denman, Brocade Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand