Report: SDN, NFV, and open source: the operator’s view

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SDN, NFV, and open source: the operator’s view by Mark Leary:
Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) represent two of the more dramatic oncoming technology shifts in networking. Both will significantly alter network designs, deployments, operations, and future networking and computing systems. They also will determine supplier and operator success (or failure) over the next five to 10 years.
As has always been the case with successful networking technologies, industry standards and open systems will play a strong role in the timely widespread adoption and ultimate success of both SDN and NFV solutions. Open source is poised to play an even more critical role in delivering on the promise of standardized and open networking.
This great promise and potential impact begs two questions. First, “Where are SDN and NFV today?” And second, “What influence will open systems and open source have on the future of SDN and NFV?”
To find answers to these questions, in December 2013 Gigaom Research ran an extensive survey of 600 operators (300 enterprises and 300 service providers) in North America. Based on findings from that survey, this research report provides key insights into the current activity and future direction of SDN and NFV advancements as well as the development and deployment of open systems and open source within SDN and NFV environments.
To read the full report click here.

Connected cars: Objects in the future are closer than they appear

Today, because some connected products are more clever than critical (see Budweiser’s smart refrigerator) while others generate more buzz than users (see smartwatches), it can be easy to believe our universally connected future is still some distance away. But one device is coming around the bend more quickly than the rest: the connected car.
There is a spectrum of connectivity for cars. On one end, there are the ‘reasonably’ smart cars that connect to a phone or other device to, for example, play music. On the other end is the car that is so smart that it drives itself. While companies like Google and Tesla are innovating on the latter, our very near future lands more in the middle of the spectrum, with humans behind the wheel of a vehicle that is equipped to collect and share data with drivers, other cars and even the broader infrastructure.
A number of factors are fueling interest here. For one, like our smartphone appendages, smart cars offer convenience. The ability to, for example, program your air conditioner to turn on when your vehicle is x miles from home, has a certain amount of appeal. Even more welcome are software updates, such as Tesla’s recent “autopilot” update, that can instantly improve the functionality and value of a vehicle long after purchase. But an even more celebrated benefit is safety; whether through intelligent monitoring of car operations or vehicle-to-vehicle data transfer, the connected car is more consistently and effectively alert than even the most conscientious driver. And, last but not least, the collection and analysis of smart car data also presents a significant opportunity for improvement to our infrastructure, allowing for better traffic control, as well as environmental benefits like reduced emissions.
The infrastructure upsides, in particular, have not gone unnoticed. Last month, as reported by Popular Science, U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx announced that $42 million dollars will be invested rolling out thousands of connected cars in the US. This initiative, the U.S.’s largest vehicle-to-vehicle pilot program, promotes collaboration among the stakeholders—which range from private companies to states to transit agencies—and opens the door to research on what will prove to be a wealth of data gained from the smart cars. The investment represents a meaningful leap forward in our connected car future.
But how ready are consumers? According to a new AT&T Drive Studio and Ericsson study, eighty percent of car buyers globally would opt to delay the purchase of a new car by a year in order to get connected features. Three-quarters of those surveyed considered connectivity features important to their next car, with the ability for the car to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot ranking most in demand. In other words, we’re ready for our cars to be as smart as our phones, independent of our phones.
This doesn’t come without concern. For all the benefits of connected cars, there are well-documented hacks and cheats that paint a picture of connected cars that is closer to Stephen King’s Christine than Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT). We’re already being exposed to the dark side of our bright and shiny connected future. Is that enough to slow things down?
Not likely. As the public’s initial resistance to “Motordom” in the early 20th century serves to remind us, danger alone is not an impediment to progress. Just as traffic lights, speed limits and stops signs were conjured to mitigate the dangers of the motor age, so the rise of connected cars will prompt a new set of measures to minimize risk. That risk can’t be fully eliminated, but we’ll learn to adapt because the benefits of connected cars—from day-to-day conveniences to less traffic, reduced fuel consumption, and fewer accidents—are simply too great to resist.
This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site Power More. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Being connected is more of a good thing than it is a bad thing

There are plenty of things that are bad about being connected to the internet and the social web all the time, but there are far more good things about it, including the relationships that it allows us to create with people we’ve never met