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Is SD-WAN the future of WAN networks?

In this week's blog roundup, analysts assess the future of SD-WAN networks, bimodal networking and look into the HP split.

In a recent post, Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes Research in Mokena, Ill., explores software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) in more depth. According to Lazar, the traditional two-tier WANs -- MPLS or Internet-based services to the branch and Ethernet/virtual private LAN service -- that have dominated for the past 20 years are putting enterprise customers behind. He views the future of WAN networks as one dominated by SD-WAN, saving enterprises money by reducing reliance on costly MPLS.

SD-WAN promises a number of benefits for the enterprise. Applications can interface directly to network controllers or undergo small-scale prioritization. IT managers can more efficiently oversee the entire network, changing attributes such as network access or bandwidth to respond to changing demands. In fact, managers can even direct outbound traffic over optimal routes or isolate virtual WANs for security purposes. Lazar cites the sweet spot that edge-device vendors, including Cisco, VeloCloud and CloudGenix, are focusing on with their SD-WAN marketing efforts. Meanwhile, service providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are also investing in the technology.

Read more of what Lazar has to say about SD-WAN.

Bimodal networking the next frontier?

Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner sees an industry-wide trend to what he terms bimodal networking. While the firm, based in Stamford, Conn., has discussed the concept of bimodal IT in the past, Lerner thinks that the term can be applied particularly well to networking. According to Lerner, most organizations operate in mode one, focusing on linear changes in networking and embracing gradual improvements in reliability. Very few have adopted the mode two "Ninja" approach by embracing speed and agility.

In Lerner's view, the best way to embrace bimodal networking is by promoting fast and agile teams focused on VLANs, DHCP, and a range of Layer 4-7 services -- such as application delivery. These teams must be able to operate outside of the slow pace of corporate change. By taking a more developer-driven approach to networking, Lerner suggests adopting Ansible, Chef, Puppet and reference templates from GitHub. To support all this rapid activity, enterprises may have to consider overprovisioning WAN in key data centers and working with providers that can provide on-demand network capacity without long delays.

Read more of what Lerner has to say about bimodal networking.

Revelations from the HP split

In a recent blog post for Ethereal Mind, blogger Greg Ferro assesses HP's future. In a move that he says will surely be compared to the recent Dell-EMC merger, HP split into two firms: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, focused on enterprise networking; and HP Inc., which will continue to sell desktop and laptop computers. Although HP Inc. is expected to increasingly give up on printers, it will continue to sell desktop hardware, and may exploit opportunities in the Internet of Things and mobile computing, Ferro says.

In the networking sphere, Ferro hopes that the split will change HP's internal culture and drive the company to become more integrated. Case in point: HP's Moonshot servers that didn't even use HP Networking for network connectivity. Instead, it chose Broadcom OEM to run the 512 ARM servers installed in a single chassis.

"Let's get back to delivering some IT," Ferro writes.

Read more of what Ferro has to say about the HP split and how it compares with what Dell is doing.

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