Follow the New IP Part V: The Network Hardware of the Future

Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reveals the latest cutting-edge devices and gadgets poised to disrupt the consumer tech space. In 2015, it was evident that this would be the year of Bluetooth-enabled everything — wearables, smart watches, necklaces and toothbrushes – all becoming network endpoints, gathering and transmitting large volumes of data. This is just one example of how today’s IT landscape is rapidly changing and, in the process, creating new demands on the network. As big technology trends like cloud, mobile, the Internet of Things and big data continue to mature, the need to upgrade the supporting infrastructure has never been more ubiquitous.

The New IP – a network foundation for innovation based on open standards, and a software-defined, dynamic and user-centric infrastructure – is industry’s answer to the demands emerging IT trends are placing on the network. The New IP addresses the increased need for bandwidth, scalability and performance created by the changing IT landscape.

Federal Insights has outlined a checklist to help government transition to the New IP. What is the first item that agencies need to check off the list? Physical infrastructure.

While software-defined technologies are central in the New IP, incorporating a dynamic physical network infrastructure remains a critical building block of network modernization. Many federal agencies are encountering challenges in scaling existing network bandwidth and supporting increasing numbers of users and devices that require highly dynamic networks. Investing in solutions that deliver flexibility and features of software, and seamlessly integrate into current hardware platforms will ensure a smooth transition between legacy infrastructure and networks designed for the New IP.

Getting Down to the New IP Basics: Hardware

To prepare for the sweeping technology trends transforming the operations and management of government IT infrastructure, agencies need to ensure that their network hardware components are compatible with software-defined and open standards.

Routers and network components that can work with both hardware-centric and software-defined environments provide agencies with an ideal launching point for the New IP. Ethernet fabrics are the network solution that can help ease the transition to software-defined infrastructure. Ethernet fabrics offer government IT administrators greater flexibility, allowing them to redirect network traffic and quickly change data traffic rules. The automation Ethernet fabrics enable allows agencies to reduce errors and save money. In fact, Gartner recently developed a report positioning Ethernet fabrics as the solution to the challenges of data center physical networks. Flatter and designed to support virtualized environments, Ethernet fabrics are ideal for agencies that are not yet ready for a sweeping transition to SDN or agencies that are already on their way.

Making an investment in the right hardware infrastructure positions agencies to gradually shift to the software-defined network environment of the New IP.

Have you addressed the other elements on the New IP checklist? Learn more about the New IP on my first four posts in the series:

Part I: Demanding Open Standards

Have questions about the New IP or other elements of government IT? Follow me on Twitter at @AKRobbins2010 to continue the conversation.


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