Protect Against Future Threats With a Programmable Backbone Network

Modernize your network today for tomorrow’s security and efficiency challenges

Rodney Elder
Protect Against Future Threats With a Programmable Backbone Network

Modern distributed infrastructure increasingly demands more flexible, dynamic networks. And with network threats becoming more frequent and costly, organizations need a backbone network that’s highly secure and reliable. As IT architectures evolve and next-generation technologies are embedded into more of our infrastructure, networking is evolving too.

The backbone network plays an essential role in digital infrastructure. As the core network that interconnects various networks around the world, it is foundational to your entire infrastructure, helping to ensure seamless connectivity. With increasing use of automation, software-defined networking (SDN) and AI, we’re seeing a transformation of backbone networks into more dynamic, programmable information highways.

Organizations have an opportunity to design and optimize their networks today to be better positioned for the future of programmable backbone networks. The advantages of these programmable backbones will be many: better performance, greater efficiencies, a more proactive security posture and better user experiences, to name a few. But it all starts with modernizing your backbone network to prepare for what’s to come.

The evolution of programmable backbone networks

There are several types of backbone networks, including distributed, collapsed, parallel and serial backbones. While they each have different architectures, all backbone networks sit adjacent to the key aggregation points, technologies and services that underpin mission-critical systems across diverse IT environments.

The development of SDN was a major step forward in network management, enabling networks to be managed via software applications. Separating the underlying physical hardware from control software opened a world of possibilities for management, orchestration and automation of networks. This evolution of networks to become more programmable has brought greater agility, flexibility, efficiency and intelligence to network management.

All the advancement brought by SDN also creates a foundation for the next major innovation: the integration of AI into networks. AI allows networks to be not only programmable but predictive and proactive, capable of real-time adjustments to new threats and opportunities. Among its many possibilities, it has the potential to transform network security and network segmentation.

What’s the role of backbone networks in security?

Network attacks have become more sophisticated over time. Traditional network infrastructure, while robust, isn’t always equipped to defend against new cybersecurity threats. Many organizations are thus seeking an enhanced security posture for their networks alongside stronger performance and greater efficiency.

With a programmable backbone network that integrates AI, organizations can perform per-packet inspection and real-time defense actions. They can also implement distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack detection at critical interconnection points between private access networks, private backbones and public networks or services.

By modernizing your backbone network to take advantage of AI, you can have proactive and even predictive policies that mitigate threats before they happen.

What’s the role of backbone networks in improving network segmentation?

Because SDN separates the control plane from the data plane, it enables centralized programmable network management based on policies. Programmable backbones with AI can thus deliver advanced network segmentation, wherein the network can dynamically adjust based on policies you set. In addition to supporting stronger security and performance, this capability can strengthen your regulatory compliance posture.

Here are some examples of dynamic adjustments:

  • Identifying elephant flows: Programmable networks can allow for efficient detection and management of elephant flows—that is, flows with a very large data volume and duration—in programmable internet exchange points (IXPs).
  • Large-scale data transfers: They can also enable adjustments to optimize data transfer processes based on changing requirements and network conditions.
  • Real-time runtime: Dynamic adjustments based in runtime programmable networks can provide adaptability based on network conditions, traffic patterns and application requirements.

These examples highlight how programmable networks leverage dynamic adjustments based on specific criteria to enhance network efficiency, security and performance. Thus, you can create virtual local area networks (VLANs) to separate your network into multiple virtual networks and isolate traffic based on the criteria you define. VLANs offer several benefits:

  • Limits potential attack surface
  • Gives you granular access control
  • Allows you to dial up performance and optimization
  • Enables you to adhere to regulatory requirements

Prepare your backbone network to take advantage of AI

Generative AI is already being used for many applications, including network observation. Before long, you’ll be able to observe your backbone network in real time, detecting anomalies or unexpected activities, capacity changes, or latency, and then use predictive AI to suggest remedies.

We’re quickly moving toward a future where AI will make real-time adjustments to a network to keep it performing at service-level targets. So, now’s the time to modernize your backbone to take advantage of programmability.

In today’s networks, you can already leverage control plane technologies for automation and orchestration, and now you can prepare for the future state with AI-enhanced intelligence. As network innovation progresses and you move toward the advanced state of leveraging your network backbone to improve performance, provide observability of traffic and create a preemptive security posture, you want a programmable backbone network ready to take advantage of AI.

Optimizing your backbone network with Equinix

There are several ways to optimize your backbone network with Equinix.

Lay your network foundation: You can begin to modernize your network today by accessing the expansive list of networking services on Platform Equinix® to expand capacity, add new or additional providers and rapidly deploy infrastructure in new locations. This sets a solid foundation for future advancements.

Establish network hubs: With Equinix, you can establish network hubs in strategic locations to optimize traffic flows efficiently, placing them close to your highest densities of partners and providers to enhance connectivity and performance.

Deploy virtualized services: You can also take advantage of virtualized network services like virtual firewalls on Equinix Network Edge, allowing quick deployment of network devices connected to your backbone network. This virtualization capability aligns with the flexibility and agility offered by programmable networks.

By following these steps and using modern network solutions and virtualized services, you can establish a robust base network that’s well prepared for the advancements and requirements of programmable networks in the very near future.

Visit our website to learn more about how to optimize your network with Equinix: Networking solutions.

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