22 Mar 2021

Disaggregation is the future in the brave new world of networking

The Public Sector is facing some of the biggest changes in the short history of information technology. From computing to networking and secure storage, technology traditionally has required fixed, inflexible hardware environments.  

But the events of the past year have changed the landscape, permanently. The pandemic has laid bare the inadequacy of legacy IT systems. Most noticeably, it has exposed existing system’s inability to exploit the benefits derived from new technology, along with the new ways of working we are all embracing.   

In the scramble to evolve, the adoption of public/private cloud services - typically provided by the large hyperscalers - has accelerated exponentially. New applications have been stood up in a matter of hours, rather than weeks, to address the unforeseen, business-critical requirements driven by the pandemic.  

We’re now past the point of no return - there is no going back.  

Brave new world 

But in this brave new world, networking has become a bottleneck that is constraining the full exploitation of cloud computing. Networks and telecom infrastructures are historically slow and costly to be deployed. Even with recent technology advances, networks still remain woefully inflexible in supporting the new demands and challenges we are now faced with. 

Whilst software defined networking (SDN), SD-WANs and network functions virtualisation (NFV) are now commonplace in organisation’s network strategies, network disaggregation has not yet delivered the promised benefits that open competition should bring. One could argue that little - if any - network disaggregation has occurred at all, thus far.   

Given the high levels of investment made by traditional telecom operators in underlying fibre infrastructures, these operators are quite rightly exploiting ‘Cloud Application Networking’ to reduce their own operating costs, through common tooling and open standards components.   

But in doing so, the need to retain the significant revenues they derive from the underlying network circuits remains paramount. Therefore, many of the Cloud Application Networking offerings we see today in the market are commercially packaged to limit the level of network disaggregation.   

For enterprises to gain the full potential of disaggregated networks enabled through Cloud Application Networking, there needs to be a wholesale separation of the network application layer from the physical circuit layer. We also need an accelerated shift towards a multi-supply approach to the costly physical circuit layer.   

Network integration specialists 

This will be driven and delivered by network integration specialists who will challenge the dominance of traditional telecoms companies and increase competitive pressure. Of course, we will see the traditional telecoms companies increasingly adopt the cloud-based messaging. But they will still be hampered by their reliance on, and need to, maintain revenues from the physical circuit layer, which is often legacy in nature.  

Emerging network integration specialists will be able to truly adopt the best-of-breed technology. They will also enable an open marketplace for physical network purchasing, either via a Dynamic Procurement System, or possibly via a comparison-style website approach we’ve become used to in residential markets.   

The network will become disaggregated down to the individual physical site level with the choice of supplier driven by each site’s application and user requirements. This will deliver significant real-time cost optimisation, service quality and performance benefits.   

These network integration specialists will enable the full benefits of Cloud Application Networking and disaggregation to be fully unlocked, delivering: 

  • real-time networks that enable business transformation and increased on-demand service provision 
  • centralised automation of service activation and change management, increasing agility, reducing operating costs whilst providing customers with transparent control 
  • true disaggregation and commoditisation of traditional circuitry layer 
  • overlay security. 

And that’s why disaggregation is the future of networking in the post-pandemic brave new world. 

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Stuart Johnson is Business Development Director in Fujitsu’s Defence and National Security team. Stuart brings over 25 years of experience in various sales leadership and business development roles in the network and ICT industry working closely and delivering solutions across the UK public sector. He is currently responsible for working with the wider public sector to facilitate commercial and business innovation through the application of Fujitsu’s secure technology solutions. 

Follow Fujitsu Defence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. This blog was originally posted on Fujitsu's website

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