Industry Trends

Software, Software all Around but Not a Tool to Use

By James Cabe | May 08, 2017

For the past 3-4 years, there has been a lot of buzz in the Information Technology market around the Software Defined delivery of applications. In terms of meta-technology evolution, software is being used to create and deliver software.

Yes, it is as confusing as it sounds.

The Software Defined revolution has caught on in three distinct areas: data center and cloud, connectivity to applications, and the agile deployment or creation of services. Amazon Web Services has recently redefined the new SDDC, or Software Defined Datacenter space, which was originally pioneered by VMware. At the beginning of the transition to software-defined connectivity, the datacenter evolved with Openflow, Cisco ACI, and many other technologies, but they all lacked stickiness. The delivery of software wasn’t tied to what real humans would find useful. So the connectivity portion never took hold in the data center. Since then, the wide area networks or internet links that connect offices together have been disrupted by SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Networking).

Of the three, the agile delivery of services is actually the hardest to do… so it’s the last thing being addressed.

What do I mean by “agile delivery”? It includes three functions: first, the orchestration of applications for deployment, such as voice and video, along with the assurance that they function like a service; next, some sort of platform, like a hypervisor, to host it on; and finally, some sort of marketplace from which deliver it to the customer. This marketplace can either be private, like ServiceNow, or public, like Azure or AWS.

The problem is that there is little attention being paid to hybridized solutions that can deliver on the promise of agile delivery. In order to deliver applications in a seamless manner, agile delivery requires both a public cloud and an onsite “cloud.” It also requires a flexible delivery mechanism to orchestrate the application, regardless of the platform or delivery method being used. This is because all applications are different. Some are coded to operate in the cloud, while others have more robust user interfaces or calculation methods, or latency requirements that require higher local compute power.

This requires a new way of doing things outside of the platform - which is where orchestration partners and ecosystems come in. While VMware has been doing a version of this for a long time, it is not hypervisor or platform agnostic. The next step is to decouple agile delivery from the platform itself, and move an ecosystem forward using some scalable rendition of it, which is a requirement that comes from the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and Mobile Application (MANO) spaces.

The biggest problem with these solutions is that while they have been primarily focused on delivery across a variety of platforms, they have done little to secure the applications themselves or protect access to them. It is in this space that Fortinet has stepped in to become the leader.

Fortinet solutions are especially suited for securing these sorts of applications and environments because they have been refined in the crucible of the carrier space where they are the de facto market leaders. Years of protecting production-oriented architectures have produced a security platform for carriers that provides required features and services that are second to none. And now, open API(s), DevOps orchestration kits, scalable management, and many other features required by carriers have begun to trickle down to the enterprise space - especially as it is now merging with the Service Provider (SP) world as they embrace operations within a CSP (Cloud Service Provider).

Which is why, in addition to our own suite of carrier-class solutions, Fortinet has just announced an extended partnership with, and investment in, UBIqube, a Fortinet Fabric-Ready Partner that provides an orchestration solution for network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN). Fortinet’s Security Fabric and UBIqube’s MSActivator enable both service providers and enterprise customers to rapidly provision, manage, and automate the security services needed for secure agile delivery. The resulting combined solution not only reduces operational complexity and costs, but also enhances design flexibility and service customization, thereby enabling the delivery of advanced security services at scale for global enterprise and service provider organizations.