As 2019 gets underway, there are a number of different trends that will likely become manifest over the course of the new year.
At its core, enterprise networking has always been about connectivity and providing the ability for different applications, servers, branches and campuses to communicate. The era of networking simply being 'dumb pipes' is long since past, as is the era in which networking was bound exclusively to physical hardware.
So what should enterprise networking professionals be aware of for 2019? There are at least seven key trends that will likely have impact on networking in the coming year.
- 5G and The Rise of Edge Computing
- Cloud Native Functions Will Emerge
- Intent-Based Networking Will Mature
- SD-WAN Will Continue to Grow
- Istio Service Mesh Solutions Expand
- 2.5/5/25/50 GbE Networking Gets Real
5G, the next generation of cellular wireless, will be deployed by carriers of all sizes in 2019. While 5G deployment is a service provider issue, how it helps to enable organizations with different use cases is an enterprise networking concern.
With 5G, Edge Computing becomes a reality. The expanded bandwidth and lower power consumption used by 5G enables more edge of network deployments, whether it's for standalone Internet of Things (IoT) devices or for edge computing deployment. With an edge computing deployment, compute resources are remotely deployed and connected via 5G.
In years past, Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) were all the rage, but that will evolve in 2019 with the concept of Cloud Native Functions (CNFs).
With CNFs, networking concepts are encapsulated inside of cloud native technology approaches, namely containers and Kubernetes, in order to enable network functions.
"What if we take the best of the telecom world, which is full automation and lots of functions, then take the best of cloud native and marry them together?" Arpit Joshipura, General Manager of Networking at The Linux Foundation, explained in a video interview with EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "We get the portability of containers, the simplicity of managing them and get the value of automation, and that's what we're calling cloud-native network functions."
The concept of Intent-Based Networking is one that Cisco first began to advocate in June 2017 as a way to bring intelligence, automation and Software Defined Networking (SDN) together.
Multiple vendors in 2019 are now positioned with various approaches to Intent-Based Networking, and it's a trend that will likely continue as organizations learn more about the concept and its benefits.
Buying MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) private connections is expensive, and always has been challenging to set up as well. SD-WAN emerged on the scene a few years ago as an alternative, providing organizations with a way to bundle multiple public Internet links to enable WAN connectivity.
According to several industry analyst forecasts, SD-WAN is a growing market. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, revenue was reported at $162 million, doubling the revenue that was reported for the first quarter of 2017. 2019 should see even further growth as MPLS renewals come up and SD-WAN technology matures.
As applications increasingly move to containers and Kubernetes, there has been an increase in the complexity of managing the networking connectivity for each container. The open source Istio service mesh is a multi-stakeholder effort backed by big names like IBM, Google and Cisco, among others.
With Istio, containers that run alongside application containers (sometimes referred to as sidecar proxies) manage traffic across a mesh that can handle multiple containers in a microservices architecture. Istio only officially reached its 1.0 milestone in July 2018, and by the end of the year, multiple vendors including AWS, F5 Networks and VMware had also jumped on the Istio bandwagon, announcing solutions.
In 2019, expect to see even more vendors adopt Istio as the base of service mesh technologies that enable container networking.
For the last decade, 1 Gigabit Ethernet has been the standard used to connect enterprise desktops and wired connected devices. In 2019, expect to see some 2.5 and 5 Gbps Ethernet enabled switches and Network Interface Cards (NICs) that take advantage of the IEEE 802.3bz standard. With 802.3bz, enterprises can get up to 5x the bandwidth out of existing cabling infrastructure.
For server infrastructure, 10 Gigabit Ethernet has been the workhorse of the past decade, but that is also shifting with increasing volumes of 25 and 50 Gigabit Ethernet enabled switches.
Expect to see more than just 1 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet in 2019 as vendors push out new options.
2019 will not be the year that enterprises all magically move to IPv6, but that doesn't mean that IPv6 adoption is not a trend that enterprise networking professionals should ignore.
Many new cellular connections and IoT devices are relying on IPv6 as a primary addressing approach. While IPv6 will not overtake IPv4 usage in enterprises in 2019 (or any time soon, for that matter), thanks to the other trends noted in this piece, including 5G and container networking, IPv6 will likely become just a bit more prominent than it has been in years past.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.