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Research: Cloud Tech Infiltrates On-Premises Datacenter Networks

Even though datacenter networking is still a thing -- not yet obviated by cloud computing -- cloud tech is increasingly infiltrating on-premises networks.

That's a takeaway from a new Magic Quadrant report from research firm Gartner, which ranks and categorizes the top players in the space. In fact, Gartner this year renamed its series of reports from "Magic Quadrant for Data Center Networking" to "Magic Quadrant for Data Center and Cloud Networking."

"Vendors covered in this research provide software and/or hardware to deliver network connectivity, primarily within enterprise data centers. Cloud and/or cloud-inspired technologies are now heavily used inside these enterprise data centers, including virtualization and automation," said Gartner, which added that it renamed the report to match enterprise expectations.

Indicating the degree of cloud tech infiltration of on-premises enterprise datacenters, one of Gartner's strategic planning assumptions was: "By 2023, more than 10 percent of large enterprises will be running on-premises public cloud infrastructure (such as AWS Outposts) in their private data centers, which is an increase from less than 1 percent in 2019."

AWS describes that offering as "a fully managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to virtually any datacenter, co-location space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent hybrid experience." Azure Stack and Google Anthos are similar services.

Furthermore, the report says, datacenter networks have evolved from scalable LANs that primarily connect servers and other hardware with high-speed Ethernet ports. While such implementations are still important, there is now less emphasis on "speeds and feeds" of switches and switch ports and more emphasis on programmability, automation, orchestration and integration as many organizations adopt private clouds and/or cloud-inspired data centers.

Of course, Gartner isn't the first to note cloud infiltration trends into datacenters (attentive readers might know that this site -- formerly a print magazine -- was renamed from Virtualization Review to Virtualization and Cloud Review). But the trend is certainly pervasive in the new report, which mentions the term "cloud" a whopping 68 times. Consider these statements:

  • Data center networking vendors, such as Cisco (ACI Anywhere), VMware ("NSX Everywhere"), Arista and Extreme are extending their on-premises capabilities into public cloud infrastructures.
  • Public cloud providers are doing the same in reverse, with offerings such as AWS Outposts, Microsoft Azure Stack and Google Anthos. For example, AWS Outposts is a rack of equipment that includes two network switches managed/operated by AWS. We predict rapid adoption of these offerings.
  • Over the next 18 months, we expect continued incremental improvements in automation, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), containers, and predictive analytics. Further, we expect two substantial shifts to occur: (1) mainstream adoption of as-a-service-based cloud management, and (2) blurring of public/private data center networking offerings (i.e., multicloud versus distributed cloud).
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[Click on image for larger view.] Magic Quadrant for Data Center and Cloud Networking (source: Gartner).

As far as the famed Magic Quadrant evaluations go, the "Leaders" are identified as Cisco, Arista Networks and Juniper Networks. Eight other vendors -- Huawei, NVIDIA-Mellanox Technologies, H3C, Extreme, VMware, Dell EMC, HPE (Aruba) and Cumulus Networks -- populate the Challengers, Niche Players and Visionaries quadrants.

In addition to the strategic planning assumption mentioned above, others in the report include:

  • By the end of 2022, the number of enterprise network teams using a SaaS-based console to manage data center networks will increase by more than 10 times to more than 1,500.
  • Customers who use management consoles from their data center networking vendors to manage networking configurations inside public cloud network infrastructures will remain less than 1 percent thru 2023.
  • By 2023, 10 percent of enterprises will fully integrate data center networking activities into CI/CD pipelines, up nearly zero in early 2020.
  • By 2025, 20 percent of data center hardware switches will be procured via an as-a-service model (i.e., hardware as a service), up from nearly zero in early 2020.

The for-pay report is available here. Gartner's Magic Quadrant reports, including this one, are often available free of charge, licensed for redistribution, from featured vendors.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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