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4th Generation Cloud Networking

When we are talking to customers about Cloud Networking, we always discuss the fact that we are in a unique space of having a 4th generation cloud product - but what does 4th generation cloud actually mean? Why is this important to them?

What does 4th Generation cloud actually mean?

To understand 4th Generation cloud technology, we first need to understand how software is developed and deployed, and the evolution of the cloud; as well as considering reliability, scalability and feature velocity.

Traditionally software was deployed on a host (usually a server) at the customer’s site. To scale up, we would eventually have to migrate the software to a larger server. This introduces disruption, as it can only be scaled so far, and due to the software being monolithic in nature, needs to be updated in its entirety for bug fixes and new features. 

The 1st Generation cloud introduces the concept of virtualisation, and moving the software to someone else’s data centre. The benefits of this include; greater accessibility, the increased reliability of a data centre, and possible cost savings. However this solution is not globally scalable, thus the issue with the single piece of software, as with the legacy solution, remains.

In the 2nd Generation, cloud microservices are introduced - where the software is split into several functional segments. At this level, all these segments are needed for the solution to work, so reliability doesn’t really improve. However, this architecture does allow for true multi-tenancy, so scalability starts to ramp up, allowing features to be added around Big Data and analytics.

In the 3rd Generation, the microservices are uncoupled from the software to an even larger extent. These microservices can be containerised or on virtual machines, and we create clusters of these for each function within the software - clusters work independently from each other, allowing for a massive increase in scalability and reliability.

To fix a ‘bug’ on this software, a microservice needs updating, which the customer is unlikely to notice - this process can even be automated. New features and fixes can now be continuously deployed to the system, without bring the system ‘offline’, which allows for very high feature velocity and no more software releases.

The solution became so scalable, that the processing power needed for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence could be introduced in the 3rd generation.  

In the 4th Generation, the architecture is completely containerised - the data stack has evolved to include Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, and the application is cloud-agnostic so it can run in any cloud environment. What we are seeing here is 11 x 9s uptime on the platform.

So, a network management platform at this generation of cloud gives the customer a solution which rarely, if ever, comes offline. The ability to scale this solution allows for a vast amount of data to be collected and analysed, giving the Network Manager unparalleled visibility of their network estate and users. Finally, new and exciting innovations can be added seamlessly to keep the solution on the very cutting edge of technical advancements.

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Customer experience is the modern day currency for business....

 Customer experience is the modern day currency for business.

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