Today IT organizations are facing challenges on multiple fronts. Significant complexities are arising in addressing technology transitions in areas like mobile, cloud, security, analytics, big data, SDN and IOE. While operating costs are rising, IT budgets are falling. Business users are increasingly demanding Agile IT services through business outcome based models. For a network provider one of the primary questions remains, “How do I make sure that demand of my business users can be fulfilled with a click of a button?” For a CIO the key concern is, “How can I create an agile IT organization that can be a strategic enabler for business through rapid deployment of applications and at the same time respond to diverse technology transitions, all the while reducing IT budget spend”
The problem multiplies in several scenarios. One such instance could be the problem faced by a communications service provider who needs to offer a variety of voice and data packages for differing customer needs, but existing network capabilities limit the creation of these packages. Another scenario is the case of a large ERP application rollout in an enterprise which involves significant manual configurations at network level to support multiple applications across multi-tier architectures, with detailed security, compliance and service level requirements. In other words, how can a business ensure that networks are geared for dynamic changes? One of the answers is in the form of Programmable Infrastructure that enables applications to drive the network requirements programmatically and the network fulfils those requirements on demand. Simply put, in such a network, applications determine capabilities. The classical, traditional network infrastructure which has for decades been dominated by rugged appliances made of specialized hardware and software is giving way to the more flexible Software Defined Networks (SDN) and dynamic Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) that can be run on a standard NFV Infrastructure (NFVI). Network architecture is being transformed from ‘network driven applications’ to ‘applications driven networks’. This reversal is nothing short of a major paradigm shift. The Open Infra and the programmable Virtualized Network function together provide an Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). The adoption of ACI/SDN/NFV is setting new standards for agility, innovation and cost reduction
Although the answers exist, they are not simple. Fundamentally, an organization needs to prepare for changes in processes, systems, people, resources and vendor relationships to make the leap from traditional manual-intervention intensive networks to the new generation of SDNs that bring new capabilities and open new revenue streams.