In outlining the network characteristics of next-generation data centers, we focused on hyperscale cloud operators since, by virtue of scale, financial resource and technical expertise, they are at the forefront of data center design. While the size and multi-tenancy of cloud operations mean the translation to enterprise networks isn’t perfect, they provide a useful preview of trends, technologies and standards that will affect enterprise data centers in the coming years. Much like NASA’s seemingly one-off technologies for the moon landing much of which later percolated into general, cloud operators are a catalyst and incubator for innovative network topologies, hardware and software that will evolve into enterprise-optimized products.
The impetus for new network designs, products and management processes are three significant IT trends:
- The growing use of public cloud services, both IaaS and SaaS, and the resultant need for integrated, hybrid cloud networks linking legacy facilities and applications with external services
- New applications and services that use cloud-inspired distributed scale-out designs such as container clusters
(e.g. Kubernetes), data analytics systems like Hadoop, MongoDB and Spark, and distributed storage systems.
- The utter inadequacy of traditional moat-and-castle network security designs and the resulting need for granular, multi-layer strategies that exploit network virtualization, virtual functions, micro-segmentation and centralized, software-automated policy management.