Thursday, April 5, 2012

Unifying Networking and Communications

I've renamed my blog to reflect a broadening of scope. My focus in the past has been narrowly on Unified Communications, which (as I've argued before) is in essence about morphing communications products from hardware appliances into application software. This has resulted in innovations such as presence-based communications (which puts the focus on the user rather than on the device) and Communications-Enabled Business Processes (which puts communications functionality at users' fingertips directly from within other software applications).

I see a similar transition starting to emerge in the networking space: the Software-Defined Networking (SDN) movement essentially is about turning networking into software. While the original motivation behind SDN was to enable faster innovation in the networking industry, I believe the ultimate promise of SDN is to enable integration of networking functionality directly into application software. Drawing on parallels with Unified Communications, one could imagine that this could lead to similar innovations. For example, SDN might allow for user-centered (rather than device-centered) networks, thereby introducing a framework for authentication and authorization--critical in a BYOD world. Furthermore, better integration of networking functionality with application software might result in a whole new class of Network-Aware Application software (providing a powerful alternative to application-aware networking products in the market today).

Given the parallels between Unified Communications and SDN, I bet there is significant value at the intersection of these two technologies. I will continue to explore these value propositions.

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