Top Networking Industry Trends for 2013

Although analysts track industry growth in multiple segments, it is difficult to forecast new technologies.  The test experts at Spirent have a unique perspective of the industry by working with the world’s largest network equipment manufacturers and service providers developing and deploying next-generation solutions.

Here are a few of our predictions of the top trends for 2013:

SDN/OpenFlow Deployment. Software-defined networking (SDN) is gaining traction as mobility, cloud computing, and the need for more agile service delivery place greater demands on network infrastructure. As the applications and benefits of SDN are defined in the market, we will see more business activity in the form of startups, acquisitions, product launches, and deployments in 2013. As data center implementations mature, market focus will shift to integrating network virtualization into the service provider networks, which begins with database-centric functions like route policy and management, traffic engineering, and subscriber access. Testing will focus on early adopter concerns regarding interoperability, security, and the ability to scale to support enterprise-class and transport networks. 

Securing the Mobile Internet. Service providers continue to add data center infrastructure to optimize the growing amount of data on the network and embrace more cloud services to monetize the networks. Expect to see a growing demand to secure both the physical and virtual infrastructure and improve the performance of securing data center interconnects with 40G and 100G Firewalls/IPS interfaces.  The increase in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives will bring the benefits of savings and improved productivity but security issues such as Malware, Targeted Attacks and Advanced Persistent Threats on the mobile Internet will challenge growth. Enterprises will increase investments in next-generation application and network security using profiles to detect and address out-of-date patches, lack of security software, malware and malicious or undesirable applications.

Wi-Fi Offload Deployments.  Meeting the demands of smartphone users as they spend more time accessing high-bandwidth content, combined with the contention for spectrum, will drive wide-scale adoption of Wi-Fi offloading as a way to increase the efficiency of the wireless network. 2013 will bring seamless handover from 3G and LTE to Wi-Fi. Bake-off and acceptance testing will focus on interoperability, call handoff functionality and performance, service differentiation, security, and quality of experience.

VoLTE and Rich Communication Suite.  With the promise of HD voice and integrated messaging, voice and video chat, VoLTE and RCS have a high bar to hurdle – to exceed the quality and integration of today’s voice and over-the-top services, while eliminating the reliance on the legacy switched network.  To ensure these high visibility services meet expectations, providers will require chipsets, UEs, base stations and LTE and IMS cores to all work in concert to prioritize these services while eliminating loss, latency and jitter, and codec issues.  Equipment manufacturers and Service Providers will focus their testing efforts ensuring voice quality under realistic mobility and network load.

Strategic Supply Chain Test Integration. The increase in complexity of new cloud and mobile solutions will continue to place higher demands on NEMs to deliver software quality that can support higher levels of customer QoE. Carriers will work closely with suppliers to develop test methodologies specific to their service offerings, insist that suppliers test using those methodologies during development, and perform final system tests in the carrier lab to validate the solution.  One example is companies teaming up on collaboration efforts to support each step of Infrastructure Test Optimization (ITO).

Continuous Integration Goes Virtual. As carriers respond to subscriber demand to deliver new services faster, NEMs will focus on continuous integration to meet accelerated schedules. Automation testing will take a new form of a functional virtual environment. More manageable software builds of modularized code will launch virtual instances of both test platforms and the software build candidate to instantly test for functionality, thereby reducing the turnaround time for addressing bugs from weeks to hours.

Data Center Scale.  10G Ethernet densities continue to grow on data center top of rack switches with growing demand for integrated high density 40G. Expect to see 10GBase-T to take off as LAN on motherboards shipments grow in 2013. 40G switching deployments makes FCoE more viable driving this slow adopting technology to finally take off in 2013.

100G Ethernet and Beyond. The oft-quoted past predictions of 10G as the primary router interface and 100G as the primary trunk interface will finally become a reality in 2013 in the content-driven network. With 2012 seeing public tests of a 1536 x 10G system and a 400G network processor, speed and density are now table stakes and 256 x 10G or higher 10G interfaces per edge router and core router blades with 4 ports or 8 ports 100G and new CFP2 optics will become standard offerings. Service providers will expect vendor claims to be validated through third-party tests at higher scales than before.  

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