In 2017 networking will increasingly move from being part of the infrastructure to being independent of the infrastructure. This is not an incremental change to networking—it is a fundamental shift. Networking must simultaneously meet the needs of developers deploying applications on a heterogeneous collection of infrastructure, and IT managers trying to apply an appropriate level of control to ensure compliance and security without impeding developer productivity. The effect of this shift will manifest itself in a variety of ways.
One is increasingly sophisticated options for container networking. We’ve already seen a proliferation of approaches to networking for containerized applications (e.g., CNM/libnetwork and CNI). These approaches will begin to mature to the point where developers are able to easily consume the networking services that they require, while IT managers are able to ensure appropriate security controls.
Similarly, as businesses face the reality that their applications will run in multiple clouds, both public and private, there will be a need for networking and security services that can readily be deployed consistently across these disparate cloud environments. This drives the need for networking capabilities to be truly independent of the underlying infrastructure on which the application runs—independent of whether the infrastructure is public or private, independent of whether the application is virtualized, containerized, or bare metal.
The increasing independence of networking services from underlying infrastructure also leads to the rise of the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). Networking in remote branch offices will be independent of the capabilities of the traditional WAN providers, responsive to the needs of the business (e.g. direct access to cloud services from the branch), and delivered in software.
Finally, open source networking will play an increasing role in providing useful networking services to developers using public clouds, OpenStack and open-source container frameworks.
2017 is poised to be a year in which networking undergoes a fundamental transformation. Networking is no longer about which vendor provides the best equipment to the traditional buyer of networking, the IT department. Developers require a rich set of networking capabilities that enable their applications. IT requires networking capabilities that enhance developer productivity, no matter what application framework or deployment environment they choose, while providing IT with appropriate controls for security and compliance.
I think the pieces are in place to meet these challenges and we’ll see this transformation gather steam in 2017.
About the Author
Bruce Davie is CTO for Networking at VMware, and a Principal Engineer in the Networking and Security BU. He joined VMware as part of the Nicira acquisition, and focuses on network virtualization. He has over 25 years of networking industry experience, and was a Cisco Fellow prior to joining Nicira. At Cisco, he worked closely with leading service providers to enhance the capabilities of their networks. He led the team that developed multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and contributed to the standards on IP quality of service. He has written over a dozen Internet RFCs and several networking textbooks. Bruce received his Ph. D. in computer science from the University of Edinburgh in 1988 and is an ACM Fellow.