& cplSiteName &

AAN: A Vision for the Future

Steve Koppman | Analyst at Large
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Steve Koppman | Analyst at Large

Application-aware networking (AAN), like many industry terms, can mean many things to many people, as it is used in wildly inconsistent ways by various market players. It is at once an industry "buzzword" and a pivotal vision for the future. True AAN, in which networks and applications modify their functioning automatically and interactively in relation to each other's requirements, and in which networks "dynamically" -- on a continuously readjusting and fully-automated basis -- optimize applications' functioning and efficiency, is at a very early stage. AAN will come to include automatically "flexing" bandwidth levels at each location, changing quality of service (QoS) levels, choosing alternative traffic paths, turning trunks up and down, and lighting fiber to reflect fluctuating application requirements.

Radically intensified demands have been placed increasingly on networks by the explosion in bandwidth use driven largely by proliferation of video -- but probably even more importantly driven by the rapid spread of two increasingly complex and geographically disparate modalities: mobility and cloud computing.

These trends make today's networks far more fluid in the end-user demands placed on them, the devices employed and locations served, as well as the applications deployed. Great leaps in mobility, device multiplicity, geographic distance, application variety, and sensitivity mean ever more pressing demands on networks, making it more important that they be able to "dynamically" (rapidly and automatically) respond to changes. Applications themselves are growing increasingly distributed, inter-dependent, and "execution environment"-sensitive.

According to the latest Heavy Reading Service Provider IT Insider, "Application-Aware Networking: The Carrier Perspective," as the network goes through this upheaval, it is ever harder to tell where problems are and where they will emerge. While network managers have an increasing responsibility for application flow and greater expectations placed on them to keep things under control, they have a declining ability to see how applications fit together and where problems are originating. End-user customers increasingly want networks to function like the experience they have with the cloud, paying by the drink, incorporating dynamic bandwidth, and combining intelligence of network and applications.

Comprehensively, AAN services will likely begin emerging in two to three years and become more pervasive and "normalized" from there. The longer-run shift under a software-defined networking (SDN)-based regime will be to an application performance interface (API)-managed environment in which applications and networks communicate in a comprehensively automated way. API-driven performance on demand will emerge with networks dynamically ensuring guaranteed class of service (CoS) performance levels. The MEF is currently working on defining relevant API standards. While AAN is linked with SDN, it does not require comprehensive SDN implementation as a pre-condition.

Some non-US carriers, including Telstra and BT, appear to be among those furthest along in leading the way toward AAN development, while some leading US-based carriers are reluctant even to discuss the subject. At the same time, many carriers use the AAN term to describe longstanding service modalities that can be seen as precursors of true AAN, predominantly visibility-oriented applications performance management (APM) and WAN optimization techniques.

— Steve Koppman, Analyst at Large, Heavy Reading Service Provider IT Insider

Application-Aware Networking: The Carrier Perspective, a 17-page report in PDF format, is available as part of an annual subscription (six bimonthly issues) to Heavy Reading Service Provider IT Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900.

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Related Stories
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
1/6/2014 | 2:02:40 AM
AAN / SDN merger
Great little article and teaser to the report.  It'll be interesting to take part in how carriers move from speeds and feeds to providing Application Aware Services that tie together Cloud and Mobile services in a seamless service.  Whilst technically feasible, although not without challenges, it'll be the economics, organisational structures and commercial agreements that drive the uptake. Add SDN into the mix, and there is certainly a lot to navigate outside of technology.
12/23/2013 | 3:12:24 PM
SevOne's Unique Solution
Great article! Indeed, mobility and cloud computing have intensified the demands placed on networks. However, network managers fear not! Keep up with the rapid demands of a growing network by gaining the performance visibility offered through SevOne's application performance management software. 

More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
It's time for the industry to walk the 5G walk.
Over the past 12 months in informal discussions with both CSPs and their vendors, it became clear that NaaS was transitioning from the promising technology column to a strategic imperative technology.
One of the major issues for the mobile networking industry going into 2020 is the deployment of 5G core networks and the migration to 5G standalone operation.
Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown takes stock of the recent TIP Summit, praising the progress made by the industry body but highlighting some blind spots.
Sunrise Communications, the second-largest telecom operator in Switzerland, reported third-quarter service revenue growth of 2.0%.
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
April 20, 2020, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
May 18, 2020, Hackberry Creek Country Club, Irving, Texas
September 15-16, 2020, The Westin Westminster, Denver
All Upcoming Live Events
Upcoming Webinars
Webinar Archive
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
Challenges & Key Issues of Constructing 'MEC-Ready' 5G Bearer Networks for Carriers
By Dr. Song Jun, Senior Solution Architect, Huawei Datacom Product Line
Good Measures for 5G Service Assurance
By Tomer Ilan, Senior Director of Product Management, RADCOM
Automation Scores Against Operational Costs – The Business Benefits of Automation and Orchestration
By John Malzahn, Senior Manager, Service Provider Product Marketing, Cisco Systems
All Partner Perspectives