This excerpt from ZK Research’s white paper Compute Transitions Drive the Need for the New IP Network is sponsored by Brocade. It reflects the views of the sponsor, not ReadWrite’s editors.

The enterprise network has undergone two major transitions since the introduction of computing as a pervasive business resource. First, the client/server era introduced networking and created the need for basic local-area network (LAN) connectivity. During this era, LANs lived in isolation, and there were several competing connectivity methods including SNA, AppleTalk and LANtastic. 

 Second, the next wave of computing introduced branch office connectivity and gave rise to the corporate wide-area network (WAN). Branch office computing created the requirement to connect the LAN “islands” to one another. The era of branch computing brought about routed IP networks to interconnect locations. Also, the network evolved to have limited application intelligence for prioritization purposes. 

Now, cloud computing is driving yet another shift in the network as the cloud creates new demands that legacy networks simply cannot meet. The cloud computing era is here, and the network must be able to deliver cloud principles everywhere. The network needs to become open and agile, and it must shift to a new economic model to be in better alignment with the cloud. 

Why “Best Efforts” Aren’t Good Enough

Legacy networks were designed for an era when the connected endpoints were static. Rigid endpoints meant the network could also be rigid in architecture. Also, most traditional, premises-based applications were “best effort” in nature, so the network that delivered the applications could be designed with best effort in mind. In reality, despite the billions of dollars spent on network infrastructure, current networks are no better than “good enough.” 

Although a good-enough IP network may have been sufficient until now, it will not meet the future demands of the cloud computing era. The cloud is a key enabler for other key technology trends such as mobility and the Internet of Things. Cloud services are elastic in nature and require a network with an equal amount of agility. The next era of computing will enable the connectivity of an order of magnitude more devices, requiring the network to scale up and out almost instantaneously. 

Additionally, network operators will need the ability to create services anywhere, at any time, and those services must be migrated whenever required. Cloud providers have already adopted new network models, and it is critical for network operators to follow these models to remain competitive. 

Too Much Spent On The Status Quo

Today, the rigidity of legacy networks inhibits network operators and enterprises from taking full advantage of the cloud. Additionally, the inefficient, manual processes that plague network operations today have driven costs up to the point where there is little time or budget for innovation. The ZK Research 2014 Network Purchase Intention Study revealed that 83% of the budget allocated to managing networks is used just to maintain the status quo. What’s required is a new type of network that is better aligned with cloud and mobile computing. 

To address the needs for this next generation of computing, evolving the network is now a business imperative. The New IP network is open, standards based and flexible, and it can meet all the new demands that cloud computing brings. Organizations that embrace the New IP era will thrive and leapfrog their competition, while those that do not will fall behind their peers and rapidly become irrelevant.

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This excerpt from ZK Research’s white paper Compute Transitions Drive the Need for the New IP Network is sponsored by Brocade. It reflects the views of the sponsor, not ReadWrite’s editors.