Some are already on their way, but to truly know if they are headed in the right direction, a five-point checklist can be used for assessment:
Standards: Proprietary or open?
The New IP is fuelled by open-sourced initiatives such as OpenDaylight and OpenStack, designed to support Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and cloud adoption.
Legacy networks continue to be more expensive and cumbersome with age, but the cost-savings potential of open standards in networking is widely known.
A survey commissioned by the consortium behind the OpenDaylight Project, found many agreed that open-source software represents greater choice, interoperability and lower costs. Selecting vendors that follow open standards brings an added advantage: spurring innovation.
Therefore, one of the first things IT leaders should consider while undertaking network modernisation, is whether the network will be open-sourced and multi-vendor.
The future of networking hardware is in software
The network is in many ways the last frontier for IT infrastructure innovation. Designed to work with virtualised environments, technologies such as SDN and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) enable organisations to more efficiently utilise the benefits of Cloud and mobile technologies.
SDN helps make networks manageable for IT administrators through automation and programmability, and can be automatically reconfigured to address increasing traffic flows and other network changes.
Accelerated Ethernet fabric-based hardware that delivers high utilisation, performance and resiliency will continue to play a dominant role for years to come in the IP network.
Therefore, organisations should ensure the selected hardware will enable them to move to SDN as they transition to the New IP, and develop the transition plan to an SDN environment.
IT Spending: On upfront costs and maintenance, or innovation?
The majority of organisations’ IT budgets are often tied up in supporting legacy infrastructure, with not much left for innovation. However, the New IP revolutionises IT spending, replacing high CapEx and OpEx spend with utility-based costs determined by the user, not the vendor.
“As-a-service” models eliminate the need to invest in hardware upfront and allow organisations to align IT infrastructure capacity and network demand.
The scalability and flexibility lets them increase or decrease the network capacity they pay for as needs change. This lets them better manage and balance CapEx and OpEx spend.
Hence, the New IP-based network infrastructure brings a long-term lifespan compared to the planned obsolescence of a legacy network, which can help direct IT spending to innovation instead of maintenance. As organisations shift IT infrastructure to the New IP, they can reduce costs while increasing network capabilities.