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Campus Networks: 2016 and Beyond

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Campus Networks: 2016 and Beyond

During the last five years, the rate of change in the networking industry is at least an order of magnitude faster than the preceding two decades. Who could have predicted at its launch that Facebook would have 1.55 billion active monthly users and 8 billion user-video views per day? Only three years ago, Facebook stock was below its USD 38 IPO share price for more than a year. Today, with a share price over USD 100, it is a USD 300 billion behemoth.

We must create the future, or the future will shape us in ways not to our liking. Huawei’s customers expect a fundamental shift in which the resource demands made by new applications will drive massive changes in enterprise architectures and connectivity.

Driving the Future

Consumerization and mobilization of IT with distribution through the cloud are the three most prominent technical trends driving the future of enterprise networks.

Scalable performance remains center stage. Enterprise networks require more connectivity and bandwidth than ever before. Big Data capture, pattern matching, and correlation are part of a new breed of applications that demand bigger pipes and more powerful processors. Network equipment vendors are delivering faster speeds in their top-of-rack and end-of-row switches, and server vendors are offering 40 GE and 100 GE interfaces for their highest-performing products.

These changes require completely new approaches to enterprise architecture — in some cases mandating extreme low latencies and no packet loss or jitter. For example, new market data feeds for financial service applications are so sensitive that variations of only a few milliseconds can affect millions of dollars in trading value.

Driven by SDN, NFV, and the Internet of Things (IoT), the two most important technical developments shaping future networks are network virtualization and abstraction. Once enough applications and use cases have been developed, these two technologies will drive the networking world for years to come.

Expected Impact

It may appear that SDN and IoT are solutions in search of a problem — when the truth is that their impact on networks will be profound as the new applications ecosystem matures, and CIOs and CTOs learn how to monetize them.

Users expect the same experience and application behaviors no matter the location, device, or access method. Consistent, unified user experiences will differentiate winners from losers.

Networks are being designed to deliver seamless user experiences, with no intervention required by end-users. Network consumers will demand from enterprise service providers — similar to the ‘MTV music revolution’ — “I want my network now, and I want it with the same, familiar LAN-like experience. What happens behind the scenes is immaterial and I do not need to know.”

Policy Framework

The network will specify unified, context-sensitive access policies, such as Quality of Service (QoS) and security parameters, in highly dynamic environments.

  • Role-based access control, with approved, audited workflows across wired and wireless networks.
  • Unified, independent, and granular control of access network traffic.
  • Security policies independent of physical perimeters or boundaries.
  • Static policies not expected to account for real-time internal or external security threats.

Future networks will allocate resources dynamically and automatically based on application performance. For instance, a video application suffering poor performance, packet loss, or congestion will report its status to the network, which in turn can re-route the streaming data to a more optimal path.

Multi-Tenant Environments

Whether voice or overlay wireless networks, campus networks are organized to be multi-tenant environments. Future enterprise networks will segregate management, service, and control traffic from data traffic. The result of this traffic separation will be the ability for enterprises to set-up logical (virtual) networks quickly and tear them down as needed. And, even though all the logical networks are mapped to the same physical network, each virtual network will be a discreet, policy-driven entity completely independent from every other logical channel. The ability to add services or resources to a virtual network at will is exactly the type of scalability that is expected from next-generation networks.

Future IT security solutions will be pervasive, seamless, and transparent. Next-generation networks will provide full-context awareness across the entire network. Security will be self-adaptive. When user behaviors deviate from the norm, policy-based protocols will automatically block access to data or devices, or initiate one or more additional data encryption routines.

Wireless Campus

Capacity and transfer speed demands continue to increase. We already see Wi-Fi speeds increasing to 10G and beyond and, with the exception of a few specialized applications, wireless campuses will become dominant.

Researchers are developing technologies that will eliminate transmission interference and allow radio devices to simultaneously transmit and receive over a single channel. With only one channel required for two-way communication, half as much spectrum will be required. The results will lead to devices that are cheaper, in smaller form factors, and operating at higher data rates when the IoT becomes reality. This could also enable an era of charging via wireless and wireless power transmission. Did someone say 4k Ultra-HD over wireless soon?

New use-cases for SDN and OpenFlow in wireless networks will emerge, including more granular control of traffic at the edge rather than at the network headend. SDN and virtualization will enable customers like retailers, hospitals, and shopping malls to buy Wireless-as-a-Service (WaaS) packages rather than purchasing and maintaining their own Wi-Fi equipment and infrastructure.

Universal Access

Expect networks to function like a utility, such as water or electricity. The moment you connect to a network, the cloud will place your entire collection of applications at your fingertips. Mechanisms for session persistence will be built into the network infrastructure for the purpose of delivering a wide diversity of on-demand, value-added services to the end-users.

Enterprises will continue the transformation into digital businesses by joining others in the creation of a national and global digital ecosystem. A completely new economy based on digital businesses is emerging with networking infrastructure at its heart. Digital networks will become an essential resource for operating in the modern world.

By Ajay Gupta

Director, Product Marketing, Enterprise Network Product Line, Huawei Technologies, Inc.