The Top Technology Trends Driving Open Networking

VP of Engineering at NVIDIA. Previously President and Chief Product Officer at Cumulus Networks before it’s acquisition by NVIDIA

Open networking is at the center of macro trends that are driving some of today’s biggest conversations around the future of the data center. According to a SDxCentral article that cites research from the 650 Group, “Open networking revenue (excluding hyperscalers) is expected to reach $1.35 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 33% between 2019 and 2023.” It’s clear that adopting open networking has been on many company’s to-do list for a while now, and with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing businesses into a “digital acceleration,” we’re seeing companies double down on the technology.

The rise of hybrid and multicloud strategies is driving companies to reconsider the way their data centers are structured. As businesses decide where to run their applications, both legacy and new, data center operators are choosing to move new workloads to the public cloud and deploy these hybrid cloud strategies. Data center modernization is the top issue for most IT organizations. While these groups are not necessarily increasing their data center count, they are, in fact, interested in the optimization of their existing centers.

Businesses want to be able to provide AI-powered services, enable edge computing and prepare themselves for the lightning-fast connectivity that 5G will bring. And consumers are demanding these new experiences as well. Whether it’s building the next health care diagnostics tool or providing better video capabilities for employees, businesses are looking to adopt new, innovative technologies to deliver better end-user experiences and deploy these services much more rapidly to their customers.

Underneath all this new, shiny technology is a complex infrastructure that is not cheap to procure, not easy to deploy or operate and not as flexible or scalable as business needs right now. As businesses are feeling the budget squeeze, how are they supposed to keep the lights on, much less build out more of their legacy infrastructure to support innovation?

Well, the answer is that they can’t. With so much more information and data being processed, legacy infrastructure can’t handle these unprecedented workloads, but when IT teams dig a bit deeper, down to the actual networking architecture, we’ve seen that open networking is the solution. Here are a few scenarios we’re seeing modern-day companies tackle.

New Technologies Could Overload Network Infrastructure

From big webscalers like Amazon and Google to small-scale businesses, the ability to implement new technologies boils down to an efficient and well-operated network. From data processing to basic internet connectivity, network infrastructure is the backbone to any business — with everything we do online, whether we’re online shopping or using driverless cars, we’re all connected to the network in some shape or form.

The heart of the problem IT leaders face is finding the right hardware and software that can not only move such large workloads effectively but also fit their business needs. According to Gartner, AI will remain one of the top workloads driving infrastructure decisions through 2023, as 39% of companies report data quantity as their main challenge to AI adoption.

Restructuring infrastructure, IT leaders are looking to open networking so their networking architecture can be flexible and adapt alongside business innovations. The faster network operators are able to handle overloaded networks, and the quicker businesses can advance their technology for the end user.

Networks Must Be Agile As Business Needs Change

IT leaders want to remain agile and customize their network based on business needs. As businesses move to the public cloud, even internal teams expect IT to quickly deploy new services with the use of AWS, GCP and Azure. Open networking solutions allow IT to incorporate the best breed of components when restructuring their network architecture. Whether they’ve developed their own solutions or use an off-the-shelf solution, IT is most interested in networking interoperability, and as a result of open APIs and open-source elements, different hardware and software will work harmoniously together no matter the workload.

When thinking about the operational costs, deployment and maintenance of a network, it’s expensive to have architecture that is solely operated by humans. Easing some of these costs, an open modern architecture gives IT the ability to automate systems, running a network that is operated by both humans and technology. Between virtual management and deployment, automation can help scale architecture at incredible speed, saving businesses both time and money.

There are a few ways to get started on your open networking journey. The good news is that you don’t need to go all-in at once or start from scratch. One option is to play with fully virtual SDN environments. You could also get started with automation and explore new tools to try various open networking solutions

As the world navigates these uncertain times, business strategies are shifting and the role of technology has proven crucial to finding new opportunities and solutions to complex problems. Expanding customer offerings and building new lines of communication, businesses are adapting and using technology to meet new needs. To do this successfully, they are looking under the hood of their underlying operations down to their network architecture and using open networking to speed up innovation and remain competitive beyond the pandemic.

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