Networks must be designed for agility, security and cloud

05 April 2017 | Jason McGee-Abe

Networks of the future must be built on the assumption that applications will eventually move to the cloud, said Chalan Aras, VP and general manager of Citrix’s Netscaler SD-WAN service.

WAN SummitDay Two of the WAN Summit in New York City opened with yet another keynote on digitisation and how its impact is pushing enterprises to relook their networks.

“The networks of today are consumed not just by apps, but IoT through customer interactions and M2M,” said Chalan Aras, VP and general manager of Citrix’s Netscaler SD-WAN service. That hunger for data, combined with the demand for digital products, is changing how people work.

As businesses become more agile, employees are using multiple network-connected devices more frequently. “What is increasing now are employees’ use of devices outside of buildings,” said Aras, citing truck drivers that track product delivery as an example.

Aras estimated that about 60% of the company’s apps are already in the cloud. He sees enterprises across all industries moving more applications and data to the cloud. “It’s not a one-time change but a one app at a time change,” he said. 

Aras noted three guiding principles to bear in mind for the design of future networks. Firstly, design for the cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS). “Assume that apps are going to move to the cloud. Assume that they are going to be hybrid and build the networks in a way that will adapt to applications. You must adapt apps to this new world that we’re in,” said Aras.

Secondly, design for change and agility. “Software-defined is prevalent. The old way of setting up routers is simply not the way to do things anymore. Assume networks will need more bandwidth and move towards intent-based networking through analytics,” he added. “The network has to understand what the user intent is. How do you discern certain activities such as file-sharing without being restrictive and stopping your employees from doing their jobs?” 

Thirdly, networks must be designed with security in mind. “You can’t ignore it. Security must be integrated with networking. The network and security have to work closely together,” said Aras.

He challenged network architects to focus not just on the WAN, but to also look at the perimeters surrounding that. “Consider a set of services that will unify branch, mobile, IoT, SaaS, the cloud and even the good old data centre. It has to be a view that unifies all and provides a robust network,” he said. 

Reporting from Agnes Stubbs