Self-defending networks: We have the technology, but no customers

Big data and software defined networking have come far enough that they can be combined with automation to create self-defending network, but no one is ready for the technology yet, according to IBM.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

As data analytics finds new uses in the security industry, some have already suggested creating big data-powered software defined networks that automatically adapt to attacks — a self-defending network — but the reason none have sprung up yet is because customers aren't ready for it.

During IBM's media round table sessions at its InterConnect 2013 event in Singapore this week, representatives from the organisation's big data and security divisions shared with ZDNet that the market simply wasn't ready for a self-defending network.

Asked if it were possible to combine software-defined networks and big-data to create such a security-aware network, big data strategy executive Timothy Young said that the market already had all the technology necessary to realise this vision.

"There probably is no reason why you can't do that today. It's probably a technology cost challenge. But I think we are heading in that direction," Young said.

Big data colleague and IBM general manager of Power Systems Doug Balog dove in a little deeper, explaining how he thought it would work in a datacentre.

"It's really nothing more complicated than providing a thoughtful set of automation across the datacenter," Balog said.

"The systems are already generating tonnes of data. It's taking the system level — the machine analytics as it's often called — and connecting it with the automation layer."

Young said that cognitive services like IBM's Watson could help in giving networks more intelligence, and while they were beginning to become more mainstream, were currently out of the reach of most people.

However, on the security side of things, IBM general manager of security systems Brendan Hannigan told ZDNet that it was a problem of there not being any customers in the market yet.

He said that with most technological advancements, there's a typical sequence of adoption and a increase in the ability of customers to consume it. When it came to security, Hannigan said that at the moment, they were focussed on the basics of advanced persistent threats, intelligent analytics, and were not yet ready.

"In many instances the customers aren't quite there yet," he said.

"The vision is appropriate, it makes sense, and we will get there."

Michael Lee travelled to IBM InterConnect 2013 as a guest of IBM.

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