AI, machine learning and a new software-oriented paradigm are changing the world of networks. We spoke to Stéphane Grosjean, Principal SE at the networking solution provider Extreme Networks to learn more about this upcoming network revolution.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Manufacturers of network solutions today seem to be more focused on software than hardware. Why is this?
Stéphane Grosjen: Today software is key, it’s not just about hardware anymore. To stand out, companies are really investing in software. The major trend long-term is to make software a tool that will drive the entire network. The goal is, through software, to achieve an intelligence able to detect behavior on the network, things out of the ordinary, and to allow the network to react by suggesting actions, all of this in an increasingly automated way.
DI e-mag: How do we achieve this?
Stéphane Grosjean: Technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and data mining allow us to reach this goal and to offer a concrete solution that’s directly applicable. Extreme Network has been working on this subject for several years. Our long-term vision is to simplify the life of the network. A real network revolution is developing!
DI e-mag: A revolution no less?
Stéphane Grosjean: Everything in a company goes through the network. It’s essential. In the past, the network was a series of ports with different speeds and box to box configuration, a stacking of protocols and very specialized operators able to work in theses boxes and with these complicated protocols. Today, we’re moving towards something simpler with the same services or even more services, and much faster. It’s a big change for the industry! The idea is to be able to bring a new service to the network easily and in very little time. Our solution Extreme Management Center allows you to work on the service you want to roll out, and not on the infrastructure. We no longer configure the service box by box with complicated protocols. We just define a central point where the new service starts and how it goes to another part of the network and that’s it. The service creates itself and follows the best path with all of the redundancy guarantees and an emergency path in case of an incident.
DI e-mag: With the explosion of connected objects on the same network, how can we ensure the security of equipment?
Stéphane Grosjean: I’m going to start with an anecdote I read in the press. Hackers recently were able to hack into a casino through the thermometer connected to the aquarium in the reception hall. This reminds us of the vulnerability of the connected objects that surround us. To avoid these holes in security, we have a so-called fabric solution that allows you to create hyper-segments within the fabric in which we associate IoT equipment. The connected objects are in this way constrained within these hyper-segments, they don’t have visibility of the network infrastructure. As a result, if a piece of IoT equipment is compromised, we can contain the breach within its hyper-segment, and prevent the person who has compromised the equipment from infiltrating the network. In the case of the connected thermometer, if the hacker can get in, he or she will only be able to see the other elements in the same hyper-segment. He or she won’t be able to access all of the infrastructure or anything else such as accounts, for example. Our solution is also simplified and automated. The infrastructure is stealthy, you don’t need to add protocols. It’s in the nature of the fabric to be automatically hyper-segmented. In the future, with machine learning, we’ll be able to monitor the behavior of connected objects like the thermometer, detect if there is a change in their behavior and react quickly.