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Bob Laliberte, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said even though data center networking is slowing down in the face of cloud and edge computing, local and campus network architecture strategies are growing in importance as the new year unfolds.
After a long period of data center consolidation, demand for reduced latency -- spurred by the growth of the internet of things (IoT) -- and the evolution of such concepts as autonomous vehicles are driving a need for robust local networks.
At the same time, organizations have moved to full adoption of the cloud for roles beyond customer relationship management, and many have a cloud-first policy. As a result, campus network architecture strategies need to allow companies to use multiple clouds to control costs. In addition, good network connectivity is essential to permit access to the cloud on a continuous basis.
Campus network architecture plans must also accommodate Wi-Fi to guarantee user experience and to enable IoT support. The emergence of 5G will also continue to expand wireless capabilities.
Intent-based networks, meanwhile, will become a tool for abstraction and the introduction of automated tasks. "The network is going to have to be an enabler, not an anchor," with greater abstraction, automation and awareness, Laliberte said.
Laliberte said he expects intent-based networks to be deployed in phases, in specific domains of the network, or to improve verification and insights. "Don't expect your network admins to have Alexa architecting and building out your network," he said. Although, he said, systems modeled after Alexa will become interfaces for network systems.
Explore more of Laliberte's thoughts on networking.
BGP route selection and intent-based networking
Yet, the methodologies behind intent-based networks fail when it comes to BGP route selection, he said. Routing protocols were, in fact, an early approach to the intent-based idea, although many marketers now selling intent-based systems are criticizing those very same protocols, Pepelnjak said. Without changing the route algorithm, the only option is for users to tweak the intent and hope for better results.
To deal with the challenges of BGP route selection, one option might involve a centralized controller with decentralized local versions of the software for fallback in case the controller fails. Yet, few would want to adopt that approach, Pepelnjak said, calling such a strategy "messy" and difficult to get right. Route selection is now being burdened with intent-driven considerations, such as weights, preferences and communities.
"In my biased view (because I don't believe in fairy tales and magic), BGP is a pretty obvious lesson in what happens when you try to solve vague business rules with [an] intent-driven approach instead of writing your own code that does what you want to be done," Pepelnjak wrote. "It will be great fun to watch how the next generation of intent-based solutions will fare. I haven't seen anyone beating laws of physics or RFC 1925 Rule 11 yet," he added.
Dig deeper into Pepelnjak's ideas about BGP route selection and intent-based networking.
Greater hybridization of data centers on the horizon
Chris Drake, an analyst with Current Analysis in Sterling, Va., said rising enterprise demand for hybrid cloud systems will fuel partnerships between hyperscale public providers and traditional vendors. New alliances -- such as the one between Google and Cisco -- joined existing cloud-vendor partnerships like those between Amazon and VMware and Microsoft and NetApp, Drake said. New alliances are in the offing.
Moving and managing workloads across hybrid IT environments will be a key point of competition between providers, Drake said, perhaps including greater management capabilities to oversee diverse cloud systems.
Drake said he also expects a proliferation of strategies aimed at edge computing. The appearance of micro data centers and converged edge systems may decentralize large data centers. He said he also anticipates greater integration with machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, as a result of legacy technologies, actual deployments of these technologies will remain gradual.
Read more of Drake's assessment of 2018 data center trends.