2014 Predictions: Virtual Data Center

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The growth in public and private cloud adoption made 2013 a big year for the virtual data center, and there’s no question that will continue in 2014. In my 2014 predictions, here are three trends I expect we’ll hear a lot about in the new year.

1.  Zero Trust Network Segmentation

Globalization has fundamentally transformed the way we do business. It has created interdependencies between global supply chains and multinational partners, expanded global economic interactions with many “countries of interest,” and enabled the movement of people, goods and information. Enterprises need to enable access to applications and data, not just for employees, but also partners and contractors. They must do business with technology and manufacturing partners and provide access to new acquisition companies, while protecting against intellectual property and confidential data theft.

In 2014, organizations will look toward practical implementations of Zero Trust network segmentation architecture as a means to address these challenges. Implementations will vary widely from enterprise to enterprise, from those that need to create distributed boundaries of Zero Trust to those that focus on data center segmentation. The key network security requirement, however, will be for solutions that can be deployed with minimal impact to the network, while providing comprehensive visibility, control and safe application enablement.

2. Cloud Adoption Growth

Organizations in 2014 will be implementing or planning to implement  cloud networks, i.e. moving from virtualized application silos (web, app, database tier) to more flexible cloud architectures that enable the delivery of any application on any server at any time. Most organizations will deploy a hybrid model where certain applications and services are offloaded to public clouds, but critical services such as internal research and development, financial data and customer data  continue to reside within private cloud boundaries.

The decision on the applications and services to be deployed in public versus private clouds will depend largely on network security requirements. In particular, with greater concerns about the integrity of US-based data centers, revealed in cases such as the Snowden leaks, greater scrutiny will be placed on the security in cloud service providers.  A key consideration for hybrid clouds will be the definition of a consistent network security policy and management framework to be implemented across both public and private clouds.

3. Software Defined “Anything”

Organizations will spend resources and time to understand the emerging technologies of software defined anything—i.e. software defined networks, software defined data centers and various permutations of this new dynamic, programmable, automated network architecture. In particular, in the battle of the titans, VMware and Cisco, will provide vastly differing architectures — a software defined data center utilizing VMware NSX network virtualization technologies or a more hardware-centric SDN architecture approach with Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Organizations will look for tighter integration among network security, virtualization and network virtualization solutions while maintaining separation of duties. Critical network security requirements will include the ability to deal with the new dynamic, services-oriented characteristics of software defined networks.

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