Cloud, Mobile, Software-Defined Networking Trends Prominent at Interop

NEWS ANALYSIS: Five major trends involving the cloud, wireless networking, software-defined networking and mobile management were prominent at this week’s Interop show.

New cloud competition, the meshing of consumer and network applications, the maturing of software-defined networks, network services to match compute and storage, and the continuing quest for mobile device management are five trends highlighted at this year’s Interop New York conference.

I spent a couple of days at Interop (which itself has become a mash-up with the Ethernet and SDN expo and InformationWeek’s CIO summit) and found these five trends and business developments that are the ones to watch in networks.

1. Verizon Terremark introduced its cloud-based service to challenge the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The Verizon Cloud Compute and Cloud Storage product demonstration was impressive with the flexibility of click and allocate compute, storage and network capacity.

Verizon, with its heritage as a telecommunications carrier, is particularly strong in the ability to allocate network bandwidth. The ground-up development of the Terremark cloud service shows that Verizon clearly learned from the experience of other vendors, and the service incorporates many of the features and capabilities companies and—in particular—enterprises have been looking for before moving from cloud consideration to cloud deployment.

2. Support for multiple hypervisors, provisioning on L2 networks and guaranteed performance levels are all parts of the new offerings. Pricing is still to come, and whether the Verizon cloud services will be within the range of Amazon Web Services remains an important piece of the puzzle.

3. Facebook and Cisco held an interesting joint announcement. Businesses will be able to offer customers WiFi service supported by Cisco that users will be able to access using their Facebook logins. In return for easy WiFi logons, businesses, such as online stores, will gain useful customer analytical data. Facebook users will be able to control the amount of information provided to the business via their privacy settings. The offering brings the Cisco mobile communications capability to a higher business level at the customer company as well as tying the Cisco brand to the popular social network.

4. The discussions around the software-defined network have moved from a concept in the future to a reality. In panel discussions and vendor exhibits, the concept of decoupling networking hardware from the network control is being embraced (with varying degrees of ardor) throughout the vendor community.

The concept is somewhat similar to the decoupling of compute and storage resources from the hardware components that gave rise to virtualized data center environments. Hewlett-Packard has taken the most aggressive stance on this concept of late by offering a raft of SDN products.

5. The relationship between applications and network resources continues to unfold. In his Interop keynote, Cisco CEO John Chambers highlighted applications in his claim that the technology industry is moving from a Web economy to an applications economy. In that vision, applications will be able to call on network resources as services. This is an interesting vision, which Cisco and other vendors still have to flesh out.

The corporate network has become a mobile network. While the use of smartphones and mobile end points has freed employees from the confines of the office and opened up new ways of doing business, the mobile revolution aggravates problems involving security, identity and network demands.

CIOs and CTOs of some of the leading New York financial companies, who participated in a panel on IT management trends, agreed that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is now the rule of corporate land. But mobile device management remains an emerging and still undeveloped market. The rapid decline of BlackBerry coupled with the desire for executives to do more of their critical and confidential work beyond email is setting new demands for mobile management.

The Interop show remains a location where many of these network trends are discussed. This year’s event highlighted the interaction of cloud, network, mobile, social and data trends.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.