If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
This pretty much sums up much of what I’ve seen in recent years in the fields of networking and security.
The first firewall was created over 30 years ago, in the late ‘80s. It was followed by the VPN just a few years later. At the time, it made sense! Since the creators of the Internet gave absolutely no thought to key aspects, such as security when they designed it, something had to be done. So, if you wanted to connect your network to the outside world you put a firewall gateway in place. If you were outside the network, you use a VPN. And voilà!
Flash forward to today. And as I’m sure you’d agree, the network has changed.
Our enterprise, our workforce, are far more distributed than ever before and the perimeter is long gone. Not to mention how every single person is working remotely these days because of COVID-19! Users, devices, resources are everywhere – some still in the old HQ, but there are now also many branch offices, remote employees, third parties, mobile users, public clouds, SaaS applications and more.
But those who created the firewall, followed by the VPN, and later the SD-WAN, and even the most recent emerging “SASE” platforms, still have a hammer and treat everything like a nail. Do you have a problem with network security? Connectivity? Speed? Throw an appliance at it! The appliance may have changed. It may no longer be a physical box, but rather a virtual one. It may no longer reside on your enterprise network and may have moved into the vendor’s datacenter (or “POP”). But it’s still a hammer: IP traffic goes in, the centralized “box” does something to it, and then it goes out the other end. We are forcing the same 30-year old, centralized paradigm on an almost completely distributed enterprise, hoping it’ll work (Spoiler: No, it doesn’t work that well! And our customers agree).
This is yet another reason we at Ananda Networks have set to rebuild the network from the ground up. We are on a mission to make the network blazing fast, fully secured, and a joy to use. Stay tuned!
When it comes to what's been plaguing the Internet, we’ve all been treating the symptoms, not the cause.
Let’s start with a quick history review.
The Internet’s first prototype appeared in the late ‘60s. On October 29, 1969, ARPAnet delivered its first message between two computers (incidentally, that message read “LOGIN”, but it crashed the network and ended up only delivering the first two characters).
Fast-forward to the ‘70s. This is when ARPANet adopted TCP/IP that allowed for the first time for multiple networks to communicate.
A couple more significant steps were made in the 80s, namely gateway-to-gateway protocol and BGP (border gateway protocol) made it possible to more robustly connect separate networks together. The latter was famously jotted down on 3 napkins over lunch… (see image above)
This was pretty much it. Our network’s architecture was conceived almost 60 years ago and evolved until about 30 years ago. And this is largely what we are still using today!
But while the Internet was designed decades ago, how we are using it greatly evolved in the years since. This internet was invented for totally different use cases than the ones we are using it for today. Its requirements were very different as well (such as redundancy in the event of a nuclear war!).
Nobody was thinking about performance. Nobody was even thinking about security.
This is because no one expected we will use the Internet for making Zoom calls, hailing a taxi, doing e-commerce or streaming Netflix. No one expected it to connect a highly distributed workforce. So, we are constantly trying to “force” the internet to do “unnatural” things. Things it was never designed to do. Instead of fixing the network, we have put in place many “patches” to make up for its original design flaws (for example: firewalls, VPNs, SD-WAN, MPLS, NAC, CASB, and many more.) This led us to think, is there a better way? (spoiler: yes, there is!)
This is one of the reasons why we at Ananda Networks have set to rebuild the network from the ground up. We are on a mission to make the network blazing fast, fully secured, and a joy to use. Stay tuned, as we will be revealing what our team has been working on for the past year.
On the off chance you haven't noticed, a generational shift is happening before our eyes, resulting in a truly distributed workforce. It’s no longer just a handful of employees on the road or working from home intermittently. In fact, you, the reader, are highly likely to be reading this blog post from home as we speak. Twitter, Quora, and many others are becoming “remote-first” companies. And while COVID-19 may have accelerated this phenomenon, it is here to stay and will likely be with us after the pandemic is over.
So what’s the difference between this new ‘distributed workforce’ and the good old ‘remote access’ paradigm? A distributed workforce means employees en mass are now working from home, and home may be far away from your company’s old headquarters. The notion of the branch office is disappearing and transforming into its individual employees that may or may not be at a physical branch. In other words, the individual user is now the network edge. What’s more, this new distributed workforce is no longer just using “remote access” tools or VPNs to connect to the datacenter. Rather, the resources employees need to access are distributed as well, and include primarily the company’s public cloud instances and third-party SaaS applications.
This means there are new and tougher requirements around performance, security, and not less important - the experience of the end-user, all happening without giving organizations too much time to prepare. Our old network, our remote access, and our security tools were not designed for this new world. Stay tuned, as we will be revealing what our team has been working on for the past year to enable the distributed workforce.