The path to a software-defined, self-optimizing network architecture Posted on May 25, 2017 by Tim Burke Your network needs to be ready for a world where malware is pervasive, nearly every enterprise uses cloud services, mobility rules, Internet of Things (IoT) devices number in the dozens of billions, and big data storage measures in dozens of exabytes. To compete in this world, you need a software-defined network in which… Pretty much everything is virtualized (decoupling hardware and software); Many more functions are automated to make them self-optimizing; Much of that automation relies on analytics (which, oh by the way, also brings intelligence to the rest of your IT infrastructure as well as your business); You can use cloud platforms to unify policy and orchestration across the network; and Your entire network architecture is open, extensible, and programmable. How ready is your network? To help find out what your network requires to meet your competitive needs, you can ask and answer these questions — about your own operations as well your service providers’: Network architecture Can your network architecture support virtualization? Is it end-to-end — i.e., from client to cloud? Is your network architecture capable of end-to-end automation? Is it open and standards-based? Can it support controller-based programmability? What about enabling cloud services, mobile, IoT, and data analytics? Network security Does you network security extend from the core to the edge? Can it act as a network-wide security sensor and intelligence dashboard? Can it dynamically enforce contextual network security policies and use predictive analytics to automatically spot and prevent emerging threats? Quality of service Is your network architecture able to universally apply Quality of Service (QoS)? Can it automate QoS and automatically adapt to ensure app performance and user experience? Network automation Are you able to create and configure network-wide policy and services using standard APIs and traditional interfaces? Have you deployed controller-based network automation that stretches across your entire network, not just a few domains? Have you integrated analytics, policy, and automation to make your network self-optimizing? Network analytics Can your network analytics deliver visualization of activity from core to edge? Can your network analytics spot anomalies and threats in real time? Does it support distributed and cloud-based IoT analytics and provide real-time insights into customer and employee actions? Don’t be daunted if you’ve found your own enterprise network coming up short. Getting your network up to speed can often be accomplished incrementally with an affordable mix of cloud, managed services, and on-site options. Seek advice from a trusted technology consultant with deep network experience. It can make all the difference.