Time for Disruption: Networking as We Know It Is Dead
Advancements like cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) have dramatically changed the technology landscape. Similarly, as-a-service delivery models, analytics, artificial intelligence, zero trust, and pay as you go consumption models will shape the future of networking. Are you ready to shed the last three decades of campus networking complexity and its problems? We are.
Impetus for Change: Cloud, SaaS, IoT, and the Hybrid Workforce
Modern cloud and SaaS technologies have fundamentally transformed how we consume compute, storage, and applications. Enterprises can now respond more quickly to business challenges; they can focus key resources on core business instead of the expensive and tedious process of procuring, installing, and managing infrastructure. Countless capabilities have been delivered faster and better through these new paradigms of cloud computing and SaaS. Yet the networking delivery model has not changed in the last three decades.
IoT adoption has exploded in every industry, significantly enhancing organizational efficiencies. The associated security costs have mostly gone unexamined or untreated. These devices lack strong authentication and self-defense cybersecurity mechanisms, and most are inherently unsecured. Once on the network, these devices are vulnerable to malicious attacks. Many security failures were precipitated by malicious actors using these devices as entry points to steal data, scope internal systems, or conduct DDoS attacks. Yet the networking has been a spectator on the sidelines for the last three decades.
It has become evident that the hybrid workforce is here to stay. Productivity can be maintained from anywhere - home, hotels, and offices. With changing workforce models, organizations need their infrastructure to scale on-demand. Just like with the cloud and SaaS, modern enterprises only want to pay for what they consume. Yet the networking consumption and pricing models have stayed the same for the last three decades.
Technology Trends: Data Analytics, AI/ML and Zero Trust Security
Data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and modern automation have helped eliminate or simplify many problems. Instead of just using these technologies reactively to get visibility into problems, we should focus on using them proactively to prevent problems. 40% of network problems are experienced by end users well before IT realizes they exist.
On the security front, zero trust is widely recognized as the most effective strategy to reduce attack surfaces and mitigate the impact of cyber attacks. Zero trust creates a more secure environment to protect against unauthorized access to sensitive data or digital assets. There are state actors commissioned to constantly discover network assets to reach different aspects of an organization. Today’s networks neither protect themselves from external attacks nor effectively enable enterprises to adopt zero trust models.
The Current State of Networking
Networking technology is over three decades old. The networking problems that arose over this history are treated with band-aids and downtime-optimized fixes. The result is a Frankenstein of technologies and architectures such as layer 2, layer 3, routed access, stacking, overlays, underlays, fabrics, controller-based, controller-less, two layers or three layers, etc. These led to a volume of options and complex systems, with thousand-page documentation manuals to configure switch ports, stacking, radios, APs, controllers, or VLANs. Long lists of protocols were created, like layer 2 (RSTP, MSTP, PVST+, VTP, stacking, MLAG, VRRP), layer 3 (OSPF, ISIS or BGP), and multicast protocols (IGMP, PIM, etc.,) requiring perfect configurations to achieve an efficient network. This complexity makes it evident why 70% of network issues experienced by organizations today are a direct result of configuration errors.
Security-wise, the industry has leveraged the VLAN model, initially designed to limit broadcast traffic. The VLAN model has also been used to differentiate data and voice traffic, with the intent to provide service quality. Lately, VLANs are used to segment employees, guests, and IoT devices, to address security concerns. However, none of these mechanisms mitigates or prevents social engineering practices or malware propagation within the network. Many organizations simply leave wired and/or wireless networks fairly open because they are too difficult to secure.
Due to the immense complexity and resulting challenges of operating their networks, an average consumer is forced to use many open source, vendor-specific, and third party tools to monitor and manage their network. A 300-employee company receives about 30,000 alerts a month from its systems. A large, 100,000-employee company gets about 500,000 monthly alerts. Finding actual problems is worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. As a result, IT teams spend most of their time reacting to end-user issues.
Managing and operating this accumulated complexity requires resources, time, and expertise. Many organizations have limited IT resources and budgets to handle this growing problem. Over the last few years, new IT graduates have been increasingly pursuing areas like cloud and site reliability engineering over network management. Concurrently, seasoned network professionals are retiring, while large companies hire talent away from higher education and mid-enterprise with better incentives. Increasing salaries for experienced network engineers further constrict organizations looking to hire or even retain their resources.
Three decades of cumulative network complexity must stop. Technology protocols and configuration management burden enterprises with network instability, security risks, and unharnessed costs. The complexity is frankly overwhelming and confusing for both IT and business leaders.
Nile Delivers a Simple, Always On Service
At Nile, we start with the customer and work backward. Before starting Nile, we spoke with hundreds of customers across different industries and sizes. These forward-looking organizations want to stay relevant to their market needs and ahead of their competition. The message was unmistakably consistent and clear: organizations want to be agile, scale on-demand, and focus on their core competencies. Organizations benefiting from consuming compute, storage, and apps as-a-service, now want those same boons of availability, reliability, elasticity, and consumption pricing for the network. They no longer want to procure, install, and manage their network. They want simple, secure, always-on connectivity, with a pay-by-use consumption model.
It is time for disruption. We are making decades of networking challenges disappear. Customers tell us where they want the service — and we handle the rest. No procuring, installing, configuring, or life cycle management — nothing. We built a system this effective by leveraging decades of networking expertise and experience.
Hyper-modern security out of the box, enabled by a zero trust posture. Resilience, redundancy, and reliability, powered by precision-engineered, purpose-built hardware and software built from the ground up to eliminate issues common and rare. This is the next leap in networking.
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