The network is essential for everything a business does and it will become even more important in the future. Network architecture and technology have shifted significantly over the past few years, and this trend is only going to continue. In some cases, the impact of these changes on networks is only starting to become evident. In others, it’s already being felt. But keeping up with these changes is critical for businesses if they want to stay competitive. Here we explore the potential impact of these trends on the future of networking as organizations look to leverage new trends to evolve, transform and stay ahead of the rest.
1. Hybrid work culture will promote new ways of networking
Many organizations have announced their hybrid working models, which allow employees to spend two or three days a week at company premises and the rest working remotely. This change has led to a distributed workforce, spread across geographic locations and no longer concentrated in campus and branch sites.
The distributed workforce and thousands of “things” connecting to the cloud have changed the way work was done. Network teams now have to control and manage many more site locations than before. They also need to worry about security and performance in this new environment. Monitoring security solutions, visibility, and observability management tools will increase the workload of IT operations teams.
The growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, as well as network-integrated building management systems, require a network infrastructure that can handle the high-speed, time-sensitive data traffic these systems produce. In the future, a robust network foundation will allow for even more innovative solutions to be deployed, using the network-to-cloud platform to process all data.
Since the pandemic began, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of video-based collaboration tools, particularly those that use cloud hyperscale networks. Home-based employees are using these tools extensively to communicate with each other. Users expect their video experience to be smooth and without any lag or jitter, which is putting a greater demand on the network infrastructure.
2. Digital transformation is making way for increased multicloud adoption
Many executives and IT leaders say that digital transformation is a top priority. Having a cloud-first strategy can help companies become more agile. This means they can create and release new products and services faster, which leads to more revenue and makes the company more sustainable in the long run.
There is a rise in sensor-based networks and the Internet of Things (IoT), and the use of digital twin simulations. These technologies require a lot of data processing, which is perfect for cloud- and cloud-like-architectures that allow for a more dynamic data processing structure and simpler connectivity from geographically distributed things.
Many organizations are now choosing to use multiple clouds or a hybrid cloud approach. This allows them to place their critical applications and workloads in the most appropriate location – the cloud, a hosted service, or on-premises – in order to achieve better business outcomes.
3. The benefits of intelligent networks will attract more organizations
Intelligent networking, or intent-based networking, is a term that has been growing in popularity. It generally refers to networks that are automated and equipped with predictive analytics. This allows the network to be more proactive and dynamic. In the future, all networks will be self-healing and self-optimizing, using AIOps, automation, and orchestration as the basis for operations. Intelligent networks are much more agile than traditional infrastructure, allowing organizations to adjust to changes in the market and cultural shifts.
Detailed and predictive analytics help to proactively monitor and measure the network’s performance. This is proving to be a valuable feature of integrated network management, shaping the foundation of a better user experience.
Trends like “the great resignation” can cause significant skills gaps in IT operational staffing. The adoption of more automated network operations, which use elements of the intelligent network concept, can reduce the pressure of finding, hiring, and retaining skilled operational staff.
Automation and orchestration can help simplify the process of managing legacy and transformed environments. Cloud-based solutions, such as SASE and identity and access management, and managed services can make it easier for internal operations staff to focus on projects instead of reacting to network incidents.
4. New ways of working have created the need for updated network architecture models
The hyperdistributed enterprise will consist of physical sites as well as virtual campuses and branches, all of which will affect the network. Operations teams will need to find more efficient ways to manage the new topology while continuing to improve the speed and agility of operations responses.
SASE security models will allow organizations to secure their new, distributed network and user base. Perimeter security that protected the campus and branch networks will always be required. But there is a need to move the security boundary closer to users, things, and cloud-based workloads and applications.
In the future, a lot of data will be generated. This is a problem because we will need more computing power to process it all. This takes up a lot of energy, which will impact the goal of reducing carbon footprints. Organizations will need to find a way to make sure they can have accurate AI processing while still meeting their carbon-footprint goals.
Using APIs to integrate different software packages and solutions makes it much easier to manage and monitor the network. This allows for a single view of all wired and wireless infrastructure, as well as AIOps, automation, building management, and application-visibility and performance applications. Additionally, predictive analytics can be used to predict network failures or bottlenecks before they cause any business outages.
5. Future innovations will impact the network in the years to come
Innovations in new information and communication technology are becoming more common. They will have a big impact on how we build, manage, and operate networks by 2025 and beyond.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency: Many organizations are finding good reasons to use blockchain technology. This is particularly true in the financial sector, but it can also be used in healthcare and government. Blockchain can help with financial transactions, cybersecurity, and communications. If an organization wants to use cryptocurrency on a large scale, it needs to set up its network correctly to take advantage of the benefits of this technology.
Quantum networking: Quantum computing has been acknowledged as a trend for several years now. This is because quantum computing uses less power than traditional computing. The speed and processing power of quantum reduce the power required to process and analyze data.
AR/VR/8K with immersive metaverse: As immersive technologies like 4K/8K/AR/VR video become more popular, they will use a lot of bandwidth. This could have a big impact on the internet backbone and on organizations that start using these technologies internally.
Photonic computing and networking: There are a lot of data that needs to be processed, and this is putting a lot of strain on the amount of power we use. It will be very difficult to find a balance between using sustainable energy sources and meeting the increasing power demands.
Artificial intelligence (AI): AI-driven solutions can identify and respond to network incidents and events, which will change the shape of network operations in the future.
5G and 6G: 5G and private 5G are now widely available in some regions. However, the availability of spectrum has caused some issues. Integrating 5G technology into traditional Wi-Fi networks has made the implementation of certain use cases easier. 6G is already in development and will be an important factor in designing and deploying new network architectures in the future.
Network as a Service: By 2025, the network-as-a-service offering will be even more mature, and organizations will be able to purchase the entire network stack from a single provider. This will make them more agile, as they can easily adopt innovative and leading-edge technology without needing specialist skills to operate and monitor it.
The modern workplace is constantly evolving, and with it, the network infrastructure that supports it. As we move towards a more hybrid workforce, multicloud adoption, and more intelligent networks, organizations must shift to a modern, cloud-based, software-defined, and data-driven network infrastructure.