The Nature of Networks

The Nature of Networks

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Information is one of the basic elements of nature. Exchange and access to information is liberating. Being able to access and exchange more information easier and faster, has enabled our civilization to progress. In the dictionary, networking is defined as:

The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions.

I always love examples how ordinary people benefit from information exchange, e.g. low income farmers in Africa were able to improve their life and incomes by receiving weather and price information updates via their mobile phones. There is more and more information exchanged and IT systems have become better and faster at it. Making the information more accessible and available. Computers are faster, storage is bigger, network links are faster, software is smarter. Increased use of mobile devices (who is using desktops anymore?), like laptops, tablets, smartphones are the choice of today’s users. IoT is becoming reality (just take a look at today’s cars, connected computers on wheels). These devices connect and disconnect a few times  (laptops) to more than hundred times (smart phones, IoT devices) per day to and from the network, changing it constantly, requesting more and more information, putting additional strains on today’s networks.

Since the ‘90s, besides increasing the capacity and speed, network elements didn’t change much. And at the same time, rest of the IT systems became more dynamic, more modular, virtualized, specialized and easier to consume.

Today application developers talk about programmatic generation of services using containers and micro-services. Creating them on demand when needed or requested. At same time network elements stayed the same; one monolithic appliance, either physical or virtual. They scaled up, but didn’t improve. Network elements were architected for long running persistent connections, not for fast changing, mobile, dynamic IT systems. The networks are hitting the barrier which they can’t break through any more.

We need to improve networks. We have to change how network elements are built and make them easier to use. Such enhanced network element will make networks easier to build and manage. To get ideas on how to do things, I love to look to nature. Computer science and biology have shared a long history together. Nature creates networks to exchange information is amazing, just look inside human body. It is amazing how it distributes the information and intelligence, uses abstractions to process information. How the human brain and the autonomic nervous system function together as one.

Well, this gave me the idea how to build a new network element. A network element that is not an appliance. An improved network element which caught up with the rest of the IT industry. An element that uses modern software frameworks that break the current barriers. At Volta, we build a disaggregated network element that is created from multiple distinctive parts, uses distributed intelligence to enable those parts to act autonomously, but provides overall functionality just as the network element we know. An evolved network element that connects with the legacy networks and makes them easier to manage and consume. A new network infrastructure behind the proliferation of computing endpoints of all sorts, that answers today’s requirements of securely connecting and disconnecting them, making exchanging information easier, faster, more accessible and cheaper.

Follow us on this path and learn more about how we do it and what Volta will bring to your networks



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