Layer 123 Reunion: Some Key Network Automation Enablers

Following on from our recent post where we looked at the key takeaways from the recent Layer 123 event in Madrid and while there were numerous presentations and discussions regarding network automation enablers, often reflecting the areas of expertise of the particular standardisation body, analyst, consultant, vendor, SI, etc., we identified a few dominant topics that commanded most attention. Inventory Management Inventory management was a constant and recurring theme in presentations, panel discussions and informal conversations at the Layer123 Reunion: Intelligent Network Automation Congress and indeed the most noted change in emphasis from the Hague event in October 2019. This heightened focus on network inventory management recognises that automation requires high data quality inventories to provide a unified view to align all teams and streamline processes for building and operating the network. From physical/ passive to logical/active, network inventory management provides the tools to detect and reconcile data quality issues. An inventory management platform discovers and documents a fragmented, multi-layered and multi-vendor network. By providing a unified view of the network, processes can be streamlined and a true network Digital Twin (a digital replica of the real network) is enabled providing accurate data and optimised workflow support as well as a Network Simulation Engine enabling: Root-Cause-Analysis Single-Point of-Failure prevention Capacity Analysis, Impact Analysis, e.g. of planned maintenance Real-time, federated (a single, unified view of network information) inventory provides a comprehensive view of the hybrid network and is the single source of truth for the network’s state, enabling reproducible automated deployments, monitoring, etc. As indicated above there were quite a few references to inventory management in the context of network...

Layer123 Reunion: Intelligent Network Automation Congress – Some Key Takeaways

Iricent attended the Layer123 Reunion: Intelligent Network Automation Congress held week before last in Madrid. It was great to be back at a physical in-person event again and catch up with up customers, partners and industry colleagues.  It was also a great opportunity to take stock of developments in the network automation sector and it was good to see not just significant advances in solution development, maturation in concepts, etc. in the two plus years since The Hague 2019 Layer 123 event but most importantly how business drivers for network automation were front and centre of the presentations, panel discussions, exhibits, breakouts, etc. This post summarises what were our key takeaways from the event and a follow on post will look at some of the dominant topics that commanded most attention. As always, if you would like to learn more or to discuss any of these topics in more detail then feel free to contact us directly at info@iricent.com. Drivers for Automation Most of the sessions introduced the business, technical and operational drivers for network automation summarised as follows: Domain Expansion and SDN/NFV Disaggregation Domains keep expanding: – Public 5G, Private 5G, Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Edge Cloud, Backbone WAN, Campus / LAN, Branch. Cloud is ubiquitous with virtualization extending from Edge to Core. SDN/NFV disaggregation has delivered Increased choice and technology innovation Service and business model innovation Multi-vendor collaboration But has also increased complexity and coordination costs Digital Transformation and Network Evolution On-Demand – the Digital Transformation foundation is driving network infrastructure changes to support customer self-service ordering, configuration and management via a portal or API and has...

SASE (and the role of SD-WAN)

Our series to date has looked at the various features and benefits of SD-WAN and related considerations with adoption, deployment and operation. Increasingly however, many if not all SD-WAN discussions include a significant security element which in itself has taken on a new dynamic with recent changes to how we work and how we deploy network services. This focus on security can be seen across the industry as more and more partnerships and integrations between respective vendors and platforms are announced. Recognising this trend early, Gartner, in 2019, defined the Secure Access Service Edge and coined the term SASE (pronounced sassy) tying together SD-WAN, managed security and edge compute in a single architecture. The motivation for this as outlined by Gartner is straightforward: Digital transformation and adoption of mobile, cloud and edge deployment models fundamentally change network traffic patterns, rendering existing network and security models obsolete The change in network traffic patterns is essentially the inversion of network access requirements with more users, devices, applications, services and data now located outside of the enterprise than inside. Legacy networking and network security architectures were designed for a world that has been turned inside out with more user work performed off the enterprise network than on the enterprise network and more traffic from branch sites and remote offices heading to public clouds than to the enterprise HQ. The requirement to reduce both complexity and latency is driving the need to decrypt and inspect encrypted traffic once only. In turn this is increasing demand for consolidation of networking and security-as-a-service capabilities into a cloud-delivered secure access service edge. Secure access service edge...

Reasons to Use a Managed SD-WAN Service

In this  series to date we have talked about the drivers for SD-WAN, the main features and related benefits and also looked at how to overcome some of the more common obstacles with adoption and deployment. This week we will delve a little deeper into one of the main choices to be made when looking at SD-WAN deployment – whether to build and run the network in house (Self Managed) or if it is better to have a third party provide this on behalf of your company (Managed SD-WAN). But first a quick Recap: Digital transformation and the repositioning of business-critical applications to the cloud brings with it many network challenges for enterprises. As a result, the nature of the network is growing more complex for all enterprises. Among the biggest networking complaints is Quality of Service/Quality of Experience (QoS/QoE) with poorly performing applications such as UC disrupting business and giving rise to application performance and prioritisation requirements. SD-WAN has emerged as the go-to solution for re-architecting the enterprise network to overcome these challenges and  facilitate digital transformation objectives such as cloud migration. Key reasons for adopting SD-WAN include: Visibility of which applications, users or devices are consuming bandwidth Control over how application traffic flows are routed Applying policies to suit specific requirements and demands of the respective applications Resilience on an active-active basis across multiple links on a per application priority basis Secure sophisticated encryption to ensure the integrity of data on the network SD-WAN Deployment Choices There are many SD-WAN solutions and many go-to-market models. This had led many organisations to focus too heavily on trying to...

Overcoming SD-WAN Adoption Challenges and Deployment Issues

Due to developments such as ever-increasing numbers of business applications competing for network resources, growing network traffic demands and enhanced network flexibility requirements, the networking needs of organisations both public and private are becoming more and more complex. In particular, the problems organisations are facing with digital transformation and migration of critical applications to the cloud cannot be solved with legacy enterprise WAN solutions. SD-WAN has evolved to address those challenges. Most organisations are by now aware of the benefits that SD WAN delivers but as it is a new and rapidly evolving technology and often outside many organisations’ expertise, the practicalities often put deploying a solution on hold. The SD-WAN concept is simple in principle, i.e. deliver the optimum connectivity experience to sites, users and devices in accessing network resources and services unconstrained by access mode or location. However, successful SD-WAN project implementation throws up many challenges and gives rise to several considerations in deciding which products and service delivery models are best suited to an individual organisation’s business needs. SD-WAN Adoption While not universally applicable, SD-WAN can meet the changing requirement of most enterprise organisations as demands on the network grow. Key to a decision to adopt SD-WAN is a review of the business considerations that are driving the change and the focus should be on what problems and business outcomes is the SD-WAN platform expected to address. Considerations include: What is the organisation structure and footprint – are there several branch offices, sites and remote users accessing network resources? Is the business on or about to embark on a digital transformation? Are business critical applications and...