Cisco SVP hails software-defined networking as game changer for datacenters

Cisco SVP hails software-defined networking as game changer for datacenters

Summary: The SVP of Cisco's security and government unit outlines the game changers for next-gen datacenters, which in turn are argued to be enabling shifts across IT services, business models, and architectures.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Connected devices are profoundly impacting datacenters and IT infrastructures -- but they're also presenting huge opportunities for software-defined networking, according to Christopher Young, senior vice president of Cisco's security and government unit.

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Citing Cisco's forecast that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, Young asserted that as the number of connections increase, so too will the number of applications running in and for the cloud.

"Further extension to these trends around mobility and cloud is the Internet of Everything," said Young while speaking during a keynote session at the 2013 RSA Conference on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's great to see a lot of our CIOs planning to adopt cloud-based applications over time, but the reality is most CIOs are being dragged to the cloud by their users and lines of business," Young said.

As we move into this era, Young remarked that the network itself is going to become increasingly programmable through APIs and data analytics at all layers.

"It's great to see a lot of our CIOs planning to adopt cloud-based applications over time, but the reality is most CIOs are being dragged to the cloud by their users and lines of business," Young said.

Stating that public cloud apps are actually the ones leading the charge here, Young continued that the Internet of Everything revolves around a network of networks where billions -- or even trillions -- of devices are going to connect to one another.

While he reiterated that this will create plenty of opportunities, Young admitted that's going to generate a lot of risk too.

From a security perspective, Young described this shift is giving way to what he described as the "any-to-any problem," which he defined as having any user on any device going to any app running on any datacenter or any cloud.

Increasingly, Young predicted, end users will connect to apps to get their jobs done without ever going through the company's controlled network.

The answer to these changes for networks and datacenters that underpin this any-to-any model are SDNs, Young asserted. He added that Cisco refers to this as "application-centric networking" because the San Jose-based corporation is introducing programmable APIs so that apps can draw intelligence (and value) directly from the network itself.

Through SDNs, Young projected, we'll get a far greater convergence between network and datacenter infrastructures, which have been historically disparate.

"Software-defined networking is going to bring the cloud model that we're all starting to focus on more and more, and put it on steroids," Young quipped.

"Software-defined networking is going to bring the cloud model that we're all starting to focus on more and more, and put it on steroids," Young quipped, specifying we're going to see lower operational costs, be able to scale applications and network services more quickly, and do more cloud bursting on-demand.

Young emphasized it's important to understand we're experiencing an "evolution" of programmable networks, which doesn't necessarily require a "fork-lift upgrade" to get the benefits. He suggested only a simply operating system upgrade might be need to get the value of SDN.

Still, Young acknowledged that we will need to secure networks differently due to SDN architectures, requiring advancements around authentication and more flexible levels of encryption.

"The threat landscape is also changing. You all know the headlines," Young said, commenting that "what's old has become new again," and citing denial of service attacks on financial systems as one example.

Outlining that we need to act in more real-time with more pinpoint accuracy with a greater ability to act on all of our knowledge, Young concluded, "The big opportunity here is to make security the key application for software-defined networking."

More from the 2013 RSA Conference on ZDNet:

Topics: Security, CXO, Cisco, IT Priorities, Networking, Privacy

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