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Is programmable infrastructure ready for prime time in networking?

In this week's networking blog roundup, analysts examine whether programmable infrastructure is now a thing, what would make a good AI tool and what's wrong with telcos.

In a post written for the Dimension Data blog, Ivan Pepelnjak examined the evolution of programmable infrastructure -- and what it means for enterprise IT.

In a nutshell, programmable infrastructure is nothing more than using software and automation -- rather than relying on manual processes -- to manage, provision and configure infrastructure components. It's not a new concept -- in fact, it's been around for almost three decades. But now that more networking equipment is interoperable and programmable, the technique is gaining traction, Pepelnjak said.

"We've already seen quick wins in the financial services industry, where one of the world's biggest banks (UBS) was able to roll out dozens of data centers at a dizzying pace of one per month after automating all aspects of the deployment process, including validation testing and automatically-generated ready-to-use documentation," Pepelnjak wrote.

Still, companies need to proceed carefully before implementing a strategy grounded in programmable infrastructure, Pepelnjak said. Among things to remember:

  • Understand that programmable infrastructure is an enabler and not a complete solution.
  • Build a roadmap to help you navigate how you want to build a programmable infrastructure, including understanding which skills might have to be outsourced.
  • Ensure all departments are involved in the deployment process so they can be assured their needs will be met.

Get caught up on what you need to know about programmable infrastructure.

What one analyst wants from AI

Torsten Volk, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., is a big fan of AI. Companies that manage to give their employees access to AI tools will be much more competitive in the marketplace, he said, but only if those tools are easy to use and make sense.

To that end, he said, it's time for WYSIWYG AI. Much like WYSIWYG HTML editors that allowed coders to immediately see the results of their programming, a WYSIWYG AI editor would teach the AI model "to identify content relevant to my work tasks and decision-making," Volk said.

The AI model would then create a digest displaying a consolidated view of all the sources -- blogs, university research and relevant websites -- used as part of his research, he said.

"I want to be able to connect to each source, decide which data fields I want to include and then train the model based on my previous research topics, what content I am interested in."

See what else Volk would like from his perfect WYSIWYG AI editor.

Why is cellular service so bad?

Let's just say Packet Pushers blogger and networking expert Greg Ferro doesn't have a lot of love for telcos -- especially telcos that refuse to install the infrastructure necessary to provide a good cellular experience and, for good measure, charge too much money for what turns out to be mediocre service.

That's forced consumers to become captives of the Wi-Fi systems offered by their neighborhood coffee shops, or to sign on to guest Wi-Fi at arenas, hotels or other public spots. And while Wi-Fi provides the necessary bandwidth, it also makes users vulnerable to hackers.

"What you really want is to have always-on, always-present network connectivity like your smartphone has," Ferro wrote. "It should have enough bandwidth for video, low enough jitter for a voice codec and no consumption charge for bytes used.

"I don't want ad hoc Wi-Fi. What I really want is a better 3G/4G/5G network that just works all the time without constraints."

Read and hear what else Ferro has to say about carriers and cellular connectivity -- and what he really thinks about telcos.

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