Networking the Cloud in 2019


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Futuriom is nearly two years old. We launched the website in April of 2017 to follow the development of technologies in the connected cloud. It's been a fun trip so far, but we are only just getting started. The agenda for 2019: Expand our research capabilities deeper into cloud and cybersecurity technologies, tap into new predictive data sources, and deliver our audience the most intriguing technology content possible.

The research plan for 2019 includes topics on how cloud infrastructure, networks, and cloud applications will evolve. But more importantly, we'll track how the large shift to the cloud is forcing cooperation between the silos of compute, storage, networking, and security. And we'll do this by using the cloud itself to tap into the opinions of millions of end users with surveys and panels, basing our analysis on real end-users' needs and views.

The trend of converging silos in the hybrid cloud has wide implications for enterprise network operators, cloud providers, and communications network operators. Their worlds are colliding, which makes for some interesting confusion -- or as they like to say in the tech world, disruption.

Software Drives the Cloud

Ground zero for this disruption is the traditional hardware world, where old-line OEMs (original equipment operators) such as Cisco, Dell, and HPE are being forced to reinvent themselves. These large OEMs still supply the bulk of the world's hardware, but they are now being forced to come up with new software models to combat the commoditization of hardware -- which has been relegated to status of the building blocks of higher-value cloud software and services. Some are doing better than others, and it is still a work in progress. Empires will be built and lost based on how this progresses. And it's a huge opportunity for startups.

Another area of chaos is the communications network, where traditional service providers have become the bit-moving serfs for higher-level cloud software and services provided by the likes of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix. The shifting of the network to the cloud has continued to perplex traditional network operators, who are still early in the shift of their own model of providing software and services in the operator cloud, which is known as network functions virtualization (NFV). Their experiments in acquiring online media products and services are still a work in progress.

All these themes provide plenty of fodder for research and analysis, which Futuriom puts into categories reflected in our 2019 Editorial Calendar. Here's how we'll cover all these themes in the coming year:

The Cloud Is the Network

Our coverage starts with networking, whether it's enterprise networks, communications networks, or cloud networks. Networks are more important than ever, as they form the underlying connectivity for the migration of enterprise applications to the cloud. Scott McNealy, the founder of Sun Microsystems, is famously credited with the term, "The Network is the Computer." But maybe we are heading into an era in which the "Cloud is the Network." (Make sure you attribute that quote to me.)

In both enterprise and communications networks, networking control and visibility is being driven further up the stack into the software layer, as richer data sources and telemetry provide opportunities for analytics and automation. This is a topic covered recently in our CSP Network Automation report, which we'll also publish again in December. But software-driven networking is also being used to deliver new services at the enterprise edge, which is why SD-WAN has been such a successful market. In addition to publishing our massively popular SD-WAN Growth Report (May), this year we'll be also covering SD-WAN from the service provider perspective with the SD-WAN Services Report (October).

At the same time, this software domain of networks and cloud infrastructure providers will need to leverage this new-found data and analytics capability to address cybersecurity headaches, which continue to dog just about every organization on work. This trend in networking security will be covered in both our IoT and Network Security Report (September) as well as our SD-WAN report series.

As more enterprises and the Internet of Things (IoT) get connected, this has big implications for what happens at the network edge -- the place where enterprises, machines, and industry plug into the cloud. This area will only grow in importance as data needs balloon and the pressure increases when the 5G data firehose gets turned on. In March, we'll be diving deep on what this means for edge IT architectures in 5G, IoT, and Edge Compute Trends. But there's also another question: How is all the data, networking, and infrastructure managed in the context of the vast migration to cloud applications? And we'll explain in more detail why this will open up opportunities for Artificial Intelligence applications in AI and IoT (July).

Yes, it's going to be a busy year. Not only will we be following these developments in our research program, but we'll be posting regular updates on the blog, putting technology developments into context. We'll be doing regular webinars with clients, and engaging in the Twittersphere. Follow @futuriom and @rayno.

I look forward to the interesting twists and turns that the year will bring. Futuriom will do its best to tell you where things are going in the connected cloud.

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