The Future of Networking: 5 Key Themes

The networking world is undergoing a seismic shift from hardware to software-defined models. Just as virtualization transformed physical servers in a previous generation, virtualization is now driving network transformation and enabling the emergence of cloud-based business models. While the benefits of software-defined networking (SDN) are widely understood, adoption has been slower than expected. To ask why and take stock of both the promise and the challenges of SDN, VMware sponsored a gathering of 200 of the best and brightest from across the networking world for the first, invitation-only future:net conference.

Insights, Challenges, and Solutions

The networking summit took place over two days, and the turnout was noteworthy. “In 10 years,” says Martin Casado, Andreessen Horowitz general partner and one of the pioneers behind SDN, “I’ve never seen such an assembly of networking talent on stage.” Participants coalesced around a series of common themes that all agreed hold the key to the future rate of SDN adoption.

Among the most prominent was the need for more effective tools for network monitoring and management. Participants agreed that the solutions that are showing great promise are those based on redesigning network architectures in more software-defined ways. The conclusion that SDN holds the key to the future of networking was returned to again and again throughout the two days.  

The need for abstraction was another common theme that emerged during the event. The current lack of abstraction makes controlling or modifying a network very complex. Many summit speakers spoke to the benefits that a programming language derived from SDN could bring to solve this issue. Security provided another topic of intense interest. And here again, the overwhelming consensus was that network virtualization can help make networks more manageable and secure through micro-segmentation.

Ultimately, the future:net summit participants agreed that virtualization is essential to the future of networking flexibility, security, and manageability. As the industry leader in virtualization, VMware reiterated its commitment to bringing that future to fruition for everyone’s benefit.

To learn more about the future of networking and the key themes that emerged from the inaugural future:net conference, explore the following infographic, which was produced by MIT Technology Review Custom, in partnership with VMware.

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