The Next Wave Of Innovation In Business Networks

Posted on November 07, 2017

The Next Wave Of Innovation In Business Networks

When the first commercial ethernet cables were laid between a handful of the world’s most advanced workstations in 1980, they delivered speeds of less than three megabits per second.

Today, network speeds are measured in gigabits, or even terabits per second. Virtually any object, from a plant to a toaster, can now form part of a network, and Cisco predicts there will be over 27 billion networked devices/connections by 2021.

The term “cloud computing’’ was only coined in 1996, yet soon over 90 per cent of all workloads will be processed by cloud data centres. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, what will the networks of tomorrow look like?

Reshaping the industry

In 2017, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) spending surpassed software-as-a-service (SaaS) spending for the first time. IaaS has reshaped the IT industry, giving organisations a way to exponentially boost capacity without investing in infrastructure.

Oracle says nearly two thirds of Australian businesses are already using IaaS to some extent. Sydney-based commercial and industrial property group Goodman’s recent migration to Amazon Web Services is a good example of how Australian companies are keeping up with the pace of change.

Those resisting the move to IaaS need to challenge the perceptions holding them back, warns Oracle, because the longer they wait, the further ahead their competitors will pull.

McKinsey & Company says that while cost is the main driver of the shift from building IT to consuming IT, other benefits such as shorter time to market and improved service quality are also boosting acceptance.

As a result of these developments, network vendors such as Cisco are increasingly redefining themselves more as software companies and less as hardware providers.

Explosive growth

Technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) are providing new ways to design, build and manage networks that are more flexible and agile, dynamic and reconfigurable.

The global SDN and NFV market is expected to grow from $US3.7 billion in 2017 to $US54 billion by 2022, a compound annual growth rate of over 70 per cent. The major drivers for this rapid growth include the increasing evolution of mobility, increased network complexity and varied traffic patterns, and the surge in demand for cloud service, data centre consolidation and server virtualisation.

Where to from here?

The networks of tomorrow, with their massive arrays of devices, systems and applications, will be so complex and dynamic that non-essential human management will become a hindrance. We are entering the era of intent-based networks (IBN).

Research giant Gartner calls IBN ‘“The next big thing on the networking horizon.” Gartner vice-president Andrew Lerner predicts the technology will result in a stark departure from the way enterprise networks are managed today.

An IBN system is an intuitive network that can become smarter through machine learning, artificial intelligence and analytics, says Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco.

Cisco says its recently unveiled IBN ‘network of the future’ promises to recognise intent, mitigate threats, and learn over time—“representing one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of enterprise networking’’.

Juniper’s version of the technology is called the ‘self-driving network’, which it describes as “an autonomous network that’s programmed to independently carry out your intentions, eliminating the complex programming and management tasks required today to run your network’’.

Network dependence

As the world becomes increasingly digital, networks are becoming ever more critical to business success. Gartner says that by 2022, the percentage of enterprises that deem networking core to their digital initiative success will increase to over 75 per cent, compared to less than 25 per cent in 2017.

It’s not clear just what the networks of the future will look like. But what is clear is that unless enterprises can keep up with rapid changes in network technology, they risk being left behind with outdated infrastructure that fails to meet business needs.

To learn more about how advanced and intelligent network solutions can benefit your business, contact the team at Vocus.

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