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Zen and the Art of Network Architecture

Written by Dan Kurschner, Cisco

"...I'll have one with everything."  That is the possibly recognizable punch-line to an old joke about the Zen master ordering a hot dog.  I am borrowing this as a theme for the on-going transformation of network architecture.

Any successful design must follow the functionality required by the end-user.

People want to be able to access information, entertainment, work, and all their friends whenever and wherever they happen to be at the time.  While we love to talk about Triple-Play, Quad-Play, and Any-Play, we still see (for the most part) operators building on from a foundation of either Fixed-line, or Cable, or Mobile-wireless.

With the pending arrival of  the fourth generation of cellular radio technology, the Mobile Operator will be able to provide bandwidth and service experiences on par with their Fixed/Cable brethren.  But we still have not seen the real shift in thinking which is to take the Zen approach to network design; "One with Everything". 

Radio is only one method of access.  Like Cable, DSL, Ethernet and so on, it is one of several ways we access our Any-Play experiences.  The truly transformed operator will envision their next-generation design as one with everything.  Offering a montage of access choices that merge seamlessly at aggregation and core.

Their shift in operational and organizational structure will reflect this completely different approach.  More mutually beneficial agreements (and mergers) between operators and service delivery partners will formulate this new seamless experience of one with everything.

Of course IP will be the common bond to enable this Zen approach, along with an acceptance of open standards for interface and interoperability.  And as these new Zen masters of network design reach deep inside for their inspiration to architect their businesses and networks they will better appreciate envisioning a single design that rises above one access type verses another, but rather one that uses the best method as the moment and location dictates.  The networking Zen masters will appreciate the nuances of network intelligence and routing capabilities to make this seamless transformation a reality.  Indeed, then we will all have one with everything.  Ohmmmmmm.

More Stories By Deborah Strickland

The articles presented here are blog posts from members of our Service Provider Mobility community. Deborah Strickland is a Web and Social Media Program Manager at Cisco. Follow us on Twitter @CiscoSPMobility.