Next Gen DC Network Trends – Part 2

Continued from Part 1:


Orchestration, Automation & Programmability


Orchestration programs automated behaviours & responses in a network in support of the workloads. Unless orchestration systems can execute real time control over network fabrics, the emerging requirements for application velocity, agility, and flexibility cannot, and will not be met.

  • APIs integrating into orchestration platforms, will fast become the norm.
  • Compatibility with the orchestration stack in a cloud environment is critical; many NV solutions claim compatibility with multiple stacks, but the level of integration varies widely.


APIs are a key enabler, as they enable complete automation of repetitive tasks, and also integration with higher-level infrastructure automation tools that can leverage the network API directly, without involving an operator.

Gartner envisages a  growing move away from the box-by-box CLI, towards a centralized and more policy-based mode of operations.

  • Any NGDCN solution needs to support automation frameworks—either by providing UNIX-like OSes or actual Linux distributions hosted on the networking device, or by ensuring that DevOp agents are available for their switching OS.” (SDxCentral, 2017)
  • Most NV solutions claim support for RESTful APIs to enable automation and programmability, however, the granularity of such controls varies widely. In most cases, these APIs are relatively immature, and can’t be used in compliance-heavy environment. (SDxCentral, 2017)
  • Workflows for provisioning, change Management & upgrade will become more common.

Management Flexibility

Control of the network can be managed via software, usually in a centralized manner. This allows configuration to be changed on the fly, without resorting to box by box changes. (Also See, Fabrics)


Fabrics, Analytics & Intent Based Networking


Solutions like Pluribus ONVL UNUM/VCF, can extend the single fabric to multiple sites while retaining a single point of management.

  • Fabrics can provide similar benefits as SDN, at least in terms of programmability and centralized point of control.” (Gartner 2017)

Analytics and Intent-Based Networking

Next generation networks need to provide increasing insight into the application data flows that are traversing the Data Center network.

  • Analytics combined with automation capabilities are foundational to intent-based networking, a concept that represents the next frontier for vendors.” (Gartner 2017)

Distributed Cloud Native Applications

Business Agility & Speed of innovation is hindered by

  1. Monolithic 3-Tier Architectures: Traffic pattern in the DC is east-west, which this architecture is not optimized for.
  2. Scale-up Architectures: inhibits linear network expansion which Scale out (e.g. spine & leaf) fabrics can deliver.
  3. No Native multi-tenancy: Traditional Networking does not typically have multi-tenancy in its nucleus.
  4. Hardware innovation cycles: Proprietary & vendor-locked hardware has longer innovation & change cycles.

(Big Switch Networks, 2017)

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