Avaya General Manager Marc Randall has been in the networking business a long time. In that time he's learned key lessons, one of which he shared from the keynote stage at the Interop 2012 conference in Las Vegas.
"You evolve your network or you get beaten up," Randall said. "It's easy to say 'evolve' but it's really hard to do as there is a lot to consider."
Modern network evolution includes dealing with cloud, BYOD, virtualization, and mobility among other concerns. For Randall though, he stressed that, fundamentally, it all comes down to just two things.
"It's about applications and devices," Randall said. "Why? Because that's all your users really care about. That's what people want and besides that they want it to be cloud easy."
The idea of "cloud-easy" is something that is easy to implement. For example, even a less-than-tech-savvy user can be up and running with Dropbox or even Amazon Web services very quickly.
"Like it or not, your users are going to measure you by the quality that you deliver services to them and they will use cloud computing as a benchmark," Randall said. "Most network evolutions are incremental, but today's user expectations are almost unrealistic."
Randall sees three key roadblocks that are really holding up enterprises from having a cloud easy environment. One of the roadblocks is access. In Randall's view, it's still not as easy as it should be to actually get on the network. Another roadblock is that, today, application delivery is bound by the boxes that the data has to travel through. Lastly, application and the networks are developed and deployed independently and never really cross paths, in Randall's view.
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What needs to happen to help solve those challenges, starts with identity.
"You need to establish an identity of one and have a policy manager that has access to multiple elements," Randall said. "Identity is your fingerprint for the network and it should follow you wherever you go and shouldn't care about the device."
When it comes to dealing with boxes, Randall sees the solution being the deployment of an enterprise-wide Ethernet fabric. Such a fabric enables faster time to configure services, provides low-latency, and it reduces errors.
"For cloud-easy, you can get around the roadblocks," Randall said. " Cloud-easy will provide simple universal access, where a device, user and app are recognized and then enabled in a virtual service network."
In Randall's networking vision, the cloud easy approach would also allow for instant services rollout."Imagine rolling out a new technology like IPv6 and not reconfiguring every box in your network?"
The evolution toward such a model for networking will also mean a shift in what networking professional actually do.
"It will change the model so your workload is oriented toward strategic workload versus maintenance workloads," Randall said.