When I was a kid, my friends and I had a walkman to listen to music. To replay a song, we had to eyeball the approximate tape width to rewind to and hoped we hit it right. With the digital disruption brought by the Internet, this sounds nostalgic. When a new album is released, we can download songs from the Internet instead of going to a store. In fact, record companies generated $5.2 billion in global digital music revenues in 2011. These days, we don’t need standalone devices to listen to music. A smartphone can do that. You no longer have to eyeball and rewind to listen to music. Whether you want to be a hit on the floor when your heart’s a stereo or you want to set fire to the rain, all you have to do is just stream. When you don’t want to give up, you can get motivated by just the touch of a button. I like what Apple (News - Alert) has done to the music industry. In fact, I like that they developed a platform.
Apple created a platform and enabled users to do what they want with Apps. Over 25 Billion Apps have been downloaded as of March 2012. And between Apple and Android, well over 50 billion apps have been downloaded. Apps are not just about a better form factor for the individual Web pages like BBC or reddit. They enable users to do much more than that. You want a specific function? You can write your own app (almost). They simplified the process. For instance, you can take advantage of the gyroscope and build Star Walk app. Or send an Instagram with the phone’s camera. Or identify a song using Shazam (News - Alert). In essence customers can take advantage of the well integrated hardware and develop custom apps for their unique needs.
Taking this approach a step forward to the networking industry, we have SDKs for routers. You can develop custom applications to tap the intelligence offered by the network. We find that service providers want to do one or all of the following with the traffic:
Packet Sampling: The reason for packet sampling is different from service provider A to service provider B. For instance, one service provider may want to monitor all traffic to see if it matches a pattern while another service provider may just want to monitor one in every five packets. Some of this information may be proprietary. Therefore, if service providers are armed with the right tools, they can customize this.
Packet Steering: Each customer has a different requirement for packet steering. While one customer may want to block pornography, another customer may want to block selective websites at work. A packet carrying video needs to be processed differently from a packet carrying data.
Packet Altering: Service providers may want to identify the right location to insert an advertisement. Or maybe change the name server for DNS queries.
In order to effectively do these functions, we need to factor the following:
- It is quite often possible that you have a traffic control service already and you want to run that on a different device. For instance, if your service was developed in Java, how do you run it on native OS on a router? Is there was a way to take your service and just drop it on the router with very simple effort?
- Some of these functions may be more compute intensive than others, bringing down the capacity of the router. We need the ability to take these services and process them in a separate plane instead of the data plane. Also, this hardware solution needs the ability to host these services.
- How do you manage these services? Can you integrate this service to the router and manage it from there centrally? How to support multi-tenancy? Can you deploy as many instances of this service as you need?
In essence, to have the same kind of benefits and simplicity like the smart-phones, service providers need a solution that provides following in networking:
- A software platform that lets you develop your own apps or use your existing apps; enables you to tap into the intelligence offered by the network.
- A hardware platform that hosts these apps.
- A simple way to manage the network elements and the applications.
Juniper Networks (News - Alert) JunosV App Engine in a comprehensive solution that provides great flexibility. As I synthesize these, my computer is playing a song in the background...
“Here’s my IP number: 18.104.22.168 So call me may-be”
Edited by Brooke Neuman