The future of IP-based network management

The introduction of the end of traditional IP-based Networks

The concept of the tradition LAN/WAN network topology is soon to become a thing of the past.

Firewalls are quickly become obsolete technologies for corporates, as many IT solutions and services are moved outside of the perimeter and into the ‘cloud’.

Internet of Things (IoT) and IPv6 are also about to hit the mainstream, so anyone looking to invest in the future, should have started putting their money into IoT tech a couple of years ago.

As devices become increasingly ‘smart’ and connectivity becomes increasingly available, the need for traditional IPv4 network management will also rapidly disappear.

The premise is simple. 25-30 years ago, the home computer was almost unheard of. Corporates connected to a mini or mainframe system via dumb green screen terminals. There was no real need to manage the device because there was no intrinsic value in the terminal itself. Essentially you cut the cable to the source and the terminal became mute.

Then the internet arrived and changed everything. IPv4 started to replace existing protocols such as NetBEUI and IPX/SPX as the de facto standard for LAN based network communication and soon the majority of the world was running TCP/IP version 4.

Because IPv4 was never designed to support a global infrastructure containing billions of individual devices, networks needed to be segmented, thus they needed to be managed and maintained as separate but interconnected networks. The advent of the proxy server and corporate firewall was born and soon became a must have and a mainstream network component.

So we then had a separate WAN based Internet Network with public IPv4 address spaces. This Network segment was broadly managed by The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). IANA is a department of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Together these organisations maintain the operational management of the overall Internet topology. They are responsible for Internet root zone Domain Name System (DNS) management and country by country IP address allocation.

The beginning of the next generation IP-based Networks

The concept of individual and segregated networks is soon to become a thing of the past. Windows 10 has now landed, proving an iPad type tablet experience that has all the bells and whistles that IT departments know and love from Windows of old.

Mobile carries and operators are increasingly upping their mobile download limits and the next generation (5G) mobile data is just around the corner.

Apple, Microsoft and Android are all now starting to ‘remember’ users individual and personal WiFi network settings and making them available to your contacts. This means that in a few years I will automatically connect to personal WiFi hotspots because my friend or colleague has shared their encryption keys with me, without me even knowing.

If you think the world is small today, it’s about to get a whole lot smaller. The internet is only really 20 years old and (decent) managed WiFi has only been around for maybe 10-12 years.

Laptops and portable mobile devices now outnumber traditional desktop PCs and portable mobile hotspots are pretty much built into even the most basic and entry level mobile phones these days. For example, just recently I purchased a cheap, entry level Android mobile phone for less than £50 and even that has a mobile hotspot mode and VPN connectivity options.

The days of high end and high cost devices is over. Apple, Microsoft and Android are saturating the lower end of the mobile device market and mobile carriers are providing ever increasing connectivity options.

If you’re reading this magazine then it maybe because you are an IT Professional, but I would like you to put yourself into the shoes of your CEO. They do not want to be sat behind a desk, they want to be out meeting customers and partners. They want, no they NEED, to be on the shop floor, so that they understand the needs and demands of their business.

Business strategy is no longer a luxury commonly known and referred to as planning. In tomorrows world, strategy is becoming ever increasingly agile and those who snooze with undoubtedly loose. Information is transforming into knowledge and information workers and transforming into knowledge workers. Thinking is now handled by machines. The decisions that need to be made are still made by people. People are now always connected and this is just the beginning.

Image walking down the road to catch the bus or train to work or you have just pulled out the driveway in your car. You have your funky new Apple Watch, Microsoft Band or Android Wear on your wrist. You get 50-100 meters down the road and your watch starts to vibrate. It’s saying: YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR PHONE BEHIND.

Now you have two options, turn round, or just keep going. If you are driving then why turn around? After all, your car is now your phone because your smart watch has just told your car that you are in it. All calls are now automatically redirected to your cars VoIP device. You have your table with you, so when you need a phone, that device will automatically become your next VoIP phone… and so on.

You may have even deliberately left your phone at home because your partner left theirs at work and is going to see a customer today. When they pick up your phone, it will automatically reboot into their phone mode. On these devices, nothing is ever stored locally and the speed of connectively and availability of connectively means that whatever you need to access, whenever you need to access it, is only a click and a few seconds away.

Sounds a little far out, right? This tech is already here, you just aren’t using it yet.

Every device is now a smart device

Lights, camera… action, sort of. Modern building sense when people are in them. Lights on… lights off. You know what I mean. The buildings of tomorrow will KNOW who is in them and will adjust their environmental controls to suit the individual. Picture frames will change to personal preferences as you walk past, lights will dim if you smart watch detects that you have fallen asleep with the lights on. TVs, laptops, tablets etc. will go into standby when they detect that you have walked away from them and will power back on when you approach again. This is the future of wearable tech and it means we will all be connected, all the time, until we have to charge them of course, but that only takes an hour or so and power mat chargers will automatically charge your smart watch whilst you type or sit through a meeting (V&VoIP more than probably).

The futures bright…

IPv6 has been around in the mainstream for about 10 years now. IPv6 is really like a replacement for the old MAC address. Because the address space of IPv6 is so vast, every device can be assigned a unique address when it is manufactured, or it is dynamically assigned, globally, by the likes of ICANN. There is no longer a ‘private’ network. Why would there be?

Each device is secured from malicious attack from within, negating the need for perimeter security. Every device will talk to every other device because it is supposed to. This is the AI or Artificial Intelligence that everyone is so afraid of. Devices talking to devices to provide a tailor made service to the individual.

It’s already here. Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Facebook, to name but a few. The AI child has already been born. The question is, what is it going to make of us when we throws a tantrum at it?

Next generation tech is going to be so easy, even my mum will be (is already) using it. Let’s take a basic work scenario and just walk through some basic steps in say 5-10 years time.

A new employee X joins company Y. They had their first and second interview over Video overIP and were hired that very same day. HR already have the candidates details loaded onto their HR system. The click a button to transform the candidate into an employee.

HR wait 5 minutes.

They then give the new employee (X) a quick Video or Voice over-IP call once again to check that they have received their induction email.

They have. Fantastic. Employee X is ready to go 🙂

The ‘cloud’ has just provisioned all the services that the employee requires to do their job.

As part of the contract of employment, employee X has agreed to the companies Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.

Employee X switches on their iPad Pro or Windows 10 tablet, signs in to the corporate ‘cloud’ portal and leave the device for a few minutes to configure itself. DONE.

When employee X starts their job the following day, they go and see a customer. Employee X likes to get the train. Their mobile phone or smart watch acts as their ticket, automatically charging them for the correct fare, without them even visiting a ticket machine.

As employee X boards the train, a smart terminal flashes up that their is a potential delay on route to their destination. The smart display has now sent alternative route information to employee X’s mobile phone and smart watch, so they can either plot a new route or inform their customer that they may be a little late for the new face to face meeting. If the delay is too severe then employee X may just elect to have a video call instead, so that peoples time is not wasted.

Who’s managing these device?

The simple answer is, the users are.

The organisation provide a username and a password and the user provides whatever device or devices they choose to. Access is granted to the service when it is required and nothing is ever stored locally on the device. The device is essentially a dumb terminal, just like we used to have 25-30 years ago.

And so the circle is complete.

The CFO is now a very happy person, because they no longer have to budget for depreciating IT expenditure. The cost of the device(s) is simply applied to the employees PAYE each month. If they leave, the cost of the salary goes with them, until a replacement is hired. There is never any obsolete or unused IT kit lying about getting dusty and slowly leaking £££’s.

The cost of the IT services are all calculate on a per-user basis, so ‘cloud’ service scale up and down as demand increases and decreases. This keeps both the CFO and the CEO very happy, because business strategy and IT strategy align (Venkatraman’s Strategic Alignment Framework) almost instantaneously, which until now, has always been a far off fantasy.

The only people who are not too happy are the IT Pro’s because now that the fibre, copper and wireless are all in place, there isn’t really much infrastructure left for them to build. Build services may also feel aggrieved, as more and more workers become home based and offices are turned into ad-hoc meeting rooms, so agile team working and real face time.

This may all sound a little unbelievable and ‘Minority Report’ to you, but it was less than 20 years ago that I was sat in a lecture being told how video on demand would soon be here and we would no longer need physical media.

Today I don’t watch live, almost ever, but I do like a bit of HD on demand entertainment or sport whenever the mood takes me. Just think about it for a minute and realise that we work in the fastest paced industry in the world, at a time when the world is changing at its fastest pace ever.



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