Next-Gen Network Devices Will Be DataFlow-Aware

You think those routers, switches and firewalls deployed throughout your network are smart today?

Well, as the saying goes, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’ That’s because, in the near future, all those network devices will likely have intelligent data orchestration merged into them to satisfy a wide range of business needs and, simultaneously, deliver faster, more efficient and governed control of your data. When this occurs, data flow-aware devices will be hailed as a network functionality game-changer with broad implications.

Just imagine your network devices making you automatically compliant with Data Sovereignty regulations, such as the EU’s GDPR, China’s Cybersecurity Law and India’s Personal Data Protection Bill. Imagine the value of routing data packets based on the source and priority level of the information inside? How about automatically sensing data from less-trusted sources and treating it differently than data from known sources? Or prioritizing the routing of data packets based which application is requesting it? That’s game-changing data orchestration in action, and that’s what data flow-aware devices will do for you.

Much Smarter than Today’s Network Devices

To understand the giant intelligence leap forward by data flow-aware devices, let’s compare their capabilities to today’s network routers as an example. Your typical Cisco/Juniper router (or any router in a software-defined network) can detect IP addresses, port numbers and protocols when routing data packets. But these new devices will bring far more intelligence by routing data packets based on information that is vastly more useful, including:

  • How the data should be governed
  • The priority level of the data
  • Its classification
  • The exact type of data within the packet
  • Its security parameters
  • The data’s origin and destination locations
  • Information about the application requesting the data
  • The source/repository of the data

Now, you’re likely thinking, “There’s no way network device makers will ever think that strategically about my data.” The truth is, you would only be partially correct. Network device makers will not need to work through the details of creating data flow-aware devices from scratch and will still gain the capabilities.

Where Will Device Data Flow Intelligence Come From?

Network device makers will simply integrate into their network devices a software layer of data orchestration. We all know that the type of intelligence found in today’s network devices focus on network performance and security issues, with very little heed given to the multitude of aspects surrounding the data itself. For this reason, Kmesh will bring our data orchestration layer to bare within select network device partners’ equipment. In fact, our pending patent addresses this very type of technology partnership and is named Data Mesh File System Control Using Network Devices.

Put less formally, our patent deals with bridging the data intelligence-networking gap by introducing data flow-aware network functions. This new technology brings massive data intelligence value to network devices in three major ways:

  • Provides data policies that define priority, security and compliance requirements for enterprise data movement.
  • Integrates data flows (aptly named Kmesh DataFlows™) with network functions (virtual or physical: SD-WAN, firewalls, switches, routers etc.).
  • Pushes data policies to DataFlow-aware network functions like Cisco ACI, VMware NSX, Juniper Contrail, etc. so that these network functions can manage, secure and enforce data policies at the networking layer.

The Market Impact of DataFlow-Aware Networking Devices

It is clear that we are exiting the days of the free and open Internet in exchange for a new world in which different nations and nation-blocs ‘zone off’ portions of the Internet. Rather than get banned from doing business in certain nations and regions, enterprises will be able to upgrade their network devices to remain in compliance at all times, no matter where their data resides or is used.

But, the positive impacts of DataFlow-aware networking will extend far beyond the realm of regulatory compliance. Enterprises, cloud providers, and private network providers will always be able to say “Yes” to virtually any application or service need and, at the same time, vary the data-provisioning service levels in ways that maximize their profits.

AI and DataFlow-Aware Networking

As a last point, we are entering a new era of AI. The underlying substructure required for AI is massive amounts of data. As governments and nation blocs begin to define policies around AI and how sovereign nations interact with each other in this new world, policies around the flow of data will be a critical infrastructure requirement.


About the Author

Jeff Kim is CEO at Kmesh. He has been in the cloud infrastructure space for over 20 years. Recently, he was Founder/CEO at Neumob (acquired by Cloudflare) and President/COO at CDNetworks (acquired by KDDI). He previously worked at Akamai, BitGravity, Sprint-Nextel and Accenture

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