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Network virtualization will force us to architect intelligent networks

One key area of network intelligence is its role as the front-end, or virtualization engine, for many IT resources. An illustration of this concept is the firewall service modules available in certain switches and routers, whereby users can establish virtual contact for different types of connectivity with different rule sets and different security capabilities. Previously, those services would have been handled individually by stand-alone appliances. Now, they're embedded within the core fabric of the network and can be addressed in a virtual way. This can also be accomplished with network architectures that combine different capabilities, functions and features, and other certain appliance-based services to make them function as one.

A second area is transformation. The intelligent network is no longer just moving packets of information from point A to point B. Now, in certain cases, the network infrastructure can actually transform the data as it moves through the environment, eliminating the need for this process to take place in an application environment and improving upon the approach historically addressed with middleware. For example, intelligent networks can enable a manufacturer to handle order fulfillment from two large retail chains, each of which has varied and multiple legacy protocols for their specific, individual transactions. This process was typically addressed through middleware, but the intelligent network can analyze traffic flow and customer requirements to effectively and accurately manage information from each retail chain


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