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Are Network Designers The New Fashionistas For IT?

Are Network Designers The New Fashionistas For IT?
January 18, 2018

Cruise ships are on the drawing board for years and CIO Bill Martin told Verge that when Royal Caribbean started designing its futuristic Quantum line, he spent five years thinking about the onboard wireless network. The industry was associated with retirees who had a penchant for casinos, karaoke, and stage shows. Royal Caribbean aspired to be associated with the millennial — and connectivity is the base of the Maslow’s self-actualization pyramid for that generation.

A few verticals have changed as radically as retailing in the past decade. An iconic innovative retailer, Ocado, was the first online groceries provider in Britain and the first to launch shopping on Apple iWatch. When Ocado Technology started working on a new warehouse model, increasing speed of delivery meant enhancing a highly automated Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC). Robots on a grid worked in tandem with humans in a just-in-time model to deliver highly optimized supply chains in CFCs. For the next-gen warehouse, they designed a data center model based on distributed nodes. This would reduce costs while making applications more agile and resilient. An intense user of Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Ocado developed a bare metal, self-hosted, self-healing, self-provisioning, partial-mesh network Kubernetes cluster. Kubermesh uses Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) on IPv6 to build a custom overlay network design.

Fashion shows forecast trends in the clothing industry. Fashionistas in these shows have an impact on what people wear for generations. Champions of haute couture can be visionaries who influence cultural and economic changes to the retail industry. The runway to retail process resembles technology going from hype cycles to deployments. Buzzwords such as cloud, infrastructure as code (IAC), and microservices symbolize technology advancement, with leaders realizing that network management decisions today explore the feasibility of a broader IT change. But, as Coco Chanel once remarked, “Fashion reflects the world we live in.”

Networks are Getting Unboxed

Networks today are getting ‘unboxed’ away from traditional architectures. Metcalfe stated that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. Intelligent networks will take this value to an iterated exponentiation. While Moore is too famous to quote, the intersection of his law and ‘Second Half of the Chessboard’ is overwhelming.

Humans are sitting at a table of digital abundance where we can visualize its hors d'oeuvre and intelligent connectivity will get us to the dessert course. At HCL Technologies, we have come a long way since 1993 when Comnet (HCL’s Infrastructure Services Division) came into being. Our CEO C. Vijay Kumar and his team implemented an innovative network platform for a simple business objective—unbiased access to all traders. The goalposts have radically changed over the last 24 years. Today, our customers embarking on IT transformation expeditions are restricted by the lack of intelligent network platforms. Whether it is digital workplaces or workload distribution across edge and clouds or an ability to absorb data from remotest elements, we help modernize networks critical to these missions.

Humans are sitting at a table of digital abundance where we can visualize its hors d'oeuvre and intelligent connectivity will get us to the dessert course.

At Network Practice, we divide our focus areas in to the following:

  1. Software-defined enterprise networks
  2. Collaboration of the future
  3. Network automation

In the last decade, large-scale Cloud computing has not only become feasible but has also been indispensable to growth. At the same time, acquisitions such as Whole Food’s gives leaders a pause. The ‘oil’ of the coming decade data is now viewed differently not just by corporates but also public policy makers — GDPR is a recent example. Enterprise AI is driven by cognitive algorithms above intelligent data access mechanism while IT initiatives are still hindered by conventional challenges. While legacy applications expire completely, the 3Is (imagine, invent, and innovate) propel the business into the next chapter of digital history. This leap is only possible through software-defined enterprise networks.

Our philosophy towards software-defined enterprise is based on three pillars: Sensus, Transport Independent Site (TIS), and NextGen Campus.

Sensus is a framework to implement datacentre networks that allow workload hosting fluidity across the hybrid Cloud. Software defined networking (SDN) implementations across multiple platforms and verticals add maturity to our Sensus framework. TIS is based on Network Service Nodes, branch SD-WAN, and CNL connecting backbones. We are designing and implementing TIS for customers who are well versed with WAN challenges. NextGen Campus will herald true digital workplaces. We are developing offerings in collaboration with leaders such as Cisco and Aruba (HP) and with visionaries such as Mojo.

An ideal employee IT experience is driven by intuition rather than process. While the latter could foster silos, collaboration is driven by platforms that are instinctively usable. Signing up for a monthly payment in a unified communication as a service (UCaaS) might be oversimplifying and could turn out to be a complex but a lucrative question to be answered. Evolve is a bouquet of solutions (Control, InterOperate, and Auto) which improve collaboration experiences. Control has helped improve the proactive quotient of managing degraded experience. 

While Automate helps migrate from legacy to modern platforms, InterOperate rallies enterprise federations to overcome constraints of collaboration apps preferences (Teams versus Spark). Analysts have outlined dramatic market shifts in transforming consumer expectations – the emergence of mobile devices, increase in social media usage, and the adoption of the cloud. We are working with partners such as Genesys and Cisco to develop customer engagement platforms and leverage all these paradigms.

A little over two years ago, the newly minted practice is one of the four pillars of NGIT that started working on a new network automation solution with a few engineers trying to figure out programming. It turned out that we needed the complete opposite -  API and coding experts and help them figure out network automation use cases. Our product NetBot is dashboard-driven and API-ready. Our goal was to provide Level-3 engineers a platform for automating and reporting on repetitive tasks to validate network health that they typically ask Level 2/1 engineers to perform. NetBot now goes much farther - it integrates controllers, ITSM, element monitoring and visibility tools. Demos have led to implementations in key customers and this is very encouraging.