Managing the Dynamic Datacenter

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Datacenter Automation Authors: Shelly Palmer, Automic Blog, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Datacenter Automation, Java in the Cloud, DevOps for Business Application Services, DevOps Journal

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The Network Shift to Software: It's Still About Speeds, Feeds, and Cost

What's changed is that the focus - from switch ports to services

There is no doubt that a focus on software defining the network - enabling automation, analytics, and orchestration via open APIs and other technologies  - is changing the way network elements are viewed and compared across the industry.

In the past, we lined up products and compared the basics: speeds, feeds, and cost. The network elements in question had better perform at line rate (speeds). have a port density (feeds), and be affordable (price per port).

Many experts claim the shift from hardware to software is changing that focus. And they are right, at least on the surface. We're no longer so worried about speeds, feeds and costs in terms of network ports but we are, as we shift toward a software-defined world, concerned with service speeds, feeds, and costs.

After all, a significant impetus in the industry to move toward software is the impedance to continuous delivery practices caused by the much lower service velocity in the network as compared to application development and operations (devops).

Hardware Software
Speed Port speed Service provisioning speed
Feeds Port Density API capabilities
Cost Price per port Price per service

It's still all about speeds, feeds, and costs. We're trying to reduce costs of network services which, after all, impacts the business' bottom line. To do that, we have to improve network feeds such that integration and collaboration across the network, compute, and storage fabrics so that automation and orchestration can be enabled. Because that is one of the primary ways we increase speed in the network, improving how fast network services can be provisioned - hopefully as fast as applications are moving from application development through operations to the network.

SDN, SDDC and Cloud are still all about speeds, feeds, and cost. It's merely the case that as the focus of network deployment, integration and management shifts to software, so too must the criteria by which we measure the capabilities of the network.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.