Hybridization of Digital and IT Transformation
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Hybridization of Digital and IT Transformation

Tom Burns, SVP & GM, Dell EMC Networking & Solutions

What are the current market trends you see shaping the Networking Space?

Digital transformation is a term we hear frequently, and the networking industry is no exception. At the current rate of data growth, we project the data universe will reach about 200 billion terabytes by 2025 as applications mature and scale. Make no mistake, we have already entered the Data Era. More data is being generated today than we ever could have imagined.

And then there is the imminent arrival of 5G, which will move all of that data from the core to the edge to the cloud at lightning speed. The dawn of the Data Era is causing a lot of companies to begin making strategic changes—both technologically and organizationally—that will allow them to remain competitive. Transformation is what the Data Era is all about, because data is the fuel that drives it.

Transformation—including Digital, IT, Workforce and Security—is a core part of Dell Technologies’ strategy, and our goal is to help customers modernize their infrastructure, automate their IT processes and transform their operating models to increase agility and ensure Business-to-IT alignment. In networking, this includes a move toward virtualized software-defined solutions.

Networking infrastructure has traditionally been a proprietary stack with hundreds of protocols requiring specialists trained to understand those protocols, plus a significant amount of physical management—either command-line interface (CLI) or sending people to the switch. By moving toward software-defined networking, companies are extracting the intelligence from the hardware and bringing it up to the overlay software. This creates new ways to manage and control a network and ensure security in the network from a software standpoint.

 We trust our simple principle around software-defined networking is important not just in the data center but also as you drive to the branch and the edge 

We believe that the core of this is disruption is about disaggregation, and were the first to recognize the disaggregation of the proprietary stack. We disaggregated the hardware and software and have continued to rewrite our full stack and networking OS. We also have strong partnerships with third-party companies such as Big Switch Networks and Cumulus Networks, providing customers with a choice of how they run their applications, workloads, and use cases.

When discussing transformation in the networking space, we must mention speed and throughputs because we are observing a massive change in the capacity and throughput requirements in switching portfolios. Three-tier architecture also used to be standard, but we now see a significant number of companies moving their datacenter to a leaf-spine architecture, switching from large, chassis-based switches to smaller one to three rack unit fixed-form factors. This not only simplifies the design of the architecture, but also reduces the footprint and power requirements while still providing the required level of capacity, speed and throughput customers require.

How is a mobile workforce creating complex network management processes?

At Dell EMC, we would classify this under the Workforce Transformation I mentioned earlier. We are one of the few players that provide IP everywhere across this spectrum, from the data center, to the edge (including our strong client business) and up to the cloud.

This unique position allows us to help customers with this transformation first-hand and in real time. With mobilitiy and virtualization, workloads and end users are both moving around. Because the level of the application and amount of data that users want access to anytime, anywhere on any device has increased exponentially, organizations must focus on connectivity, security and relativity simultaneously. What you’re seeing is the WAN becoming the new LAN. This is opening new architectures and opportunities such as SD-WAN that can make intelligent routing decisions based on where the traffic actually needs to go instead of on a pre-defined route.

What are the major tasks for organizational CIOs at this point in time?

With the rapid onset of Digital, Workforce, and IT Transformations, CIOs will need to facilitate a smooth transition from traditional approaches to new modernized applications. According to ESG’s 2018 IT Transformation Maturity Study commissioned by Dell EMC and Intel, approximately 81 percent of survey respondents agreed that if they do not embrace IT Transformation, there is a real possibility that they will become obsolete.

How is the explosion in the Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints impacting the growth of WLAN technology?

IoT is a rapidly evolving area. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Will there be networking implications? Certainly. And the network will need to adapt to the particular use case and implementation and performance requirements. That’s why remaining open, flexible and agile is critical.

Dell Technologies is a pioneer in comprehensive IoT management tools with VMware Pulse IoT Center—a secure, enterprise-grade IoT device management and monitoring solution to onboard, manage, monitor and secure IoT use cases from the edge to the cloud. Our OEM partner Ruckus Wireless offers access points and controllers for WiFi, Bluetooth, BLE, ZigBee and LTE in the unlicensed spectrum. Our OEM partner Aerohive offers WiFi, BLE and ZigBee. We continue to bring innovative solutions from other partners to our customers to serve their unique needs.

What is your advice for budding technologists in the Networking space?

Flexibility is key. Do not get locked into rigid, proprietary solutions. Instead, invest in skills around open architectures, modern portfolios, modular systems and scalable solutions, DevOps and Linux. Each of these provide maximum choice, freedom from legacy systems, mix-and-match interoperability and scalability.

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