5 Network Predictions for 2018
by Mark Milinkovich
Looking back on this year, we can see threads of what the future holds in enterprise networking. Specifically, taking a closer look at the biggest news and trends of this year, IT areas where businesses are investing and perspectives from the analyst community, as well as our own experiences, here are five network predictions for the coming year.
1. FOCUS ON ML AND AI FOR NPM WILL MOVE BEYOND THE HYPE
The focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence for network performance management (NPM) will move beyond the hype and become pragmatic. As software defined and multi cloud networks become the new normal, NPM platforms will need to gather deep analytical insights across these complex environments to proactively support network engineers and IT operations. These insights help deliver optimized application, device and user performance across the network. It also enables the network to continuously learn, spot and address abnormalities in network traffic, and dynamically adjust network policies to account for changes in usage or user behavior. Ultimately, this will help prevent network problems before they occur resulting in faster responses to incidents and better online experiences.
2. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION WILL CREATE A NEW GENERATION OF NETWORK ENGINEERS
According to Gartner’s 2017 CEO survey, 42 percent of CEOs are now taking a digital-first approach to business change or taking digital to the core of their enterprise model. As “digital-first” continues to be a priority, it’s creating new demands on network teams. This includes managing increasing complexity of the network as innovations such as software-defined, IoT, and multi-cloud proliferate. This will simply be the way that business gets done. To support it, the network engineer, architect, and operator will not only be the keeper of the network, they will be enablers of digital transformation and custodians of the digital experience for the enterprise’s employees and customers.
3. AUTOMATED NETWORK CONFIGURATION WILL BE AT THE TOP OF THE IT AGENDA
At the recent Gartner Infrastructure and Operations conference, approximately 2000 CIOs were asked which IT initiative they’ll spend money on in 2018. Over 61 percent answered network configured automation (NCA). Clearly, the need to automate basic tasks is in demand, especially as organizations want to free up resources and invest in technologies that will support their path to self-healing networks.
4. IT WILL BE OBVIOUS WHICH COMPANIES HAVE EMBRACED NETOPS
By 2020, it will be obvious which companies have embraced NetOps because they’ll be more agile, responsive to customers and partners, and deliver stronger financial results. At its core, NetOps is all about building and managing a flexible network that quickly responds to business needs and adapts to the applications and services being used. To succeed in this goal requires greater visibility across the network along with automated workflows and analytics that connect networking, engineering, and IT operations teams and provide deeper insights into the performance of the network and the user experiences, applications, and devices running on it.
5. CONTINUED GROWTH OF SD-WAN WILL CREATE HIGHER DEMAND FOR IMPROVED NETWORK VISIBILITY ACROSS HYBRID INFRASTRUCTURES
Analysts at IDC have forecasted that by 2021, SD-WAN will realize a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.9 percent, reaching $8.05 billion. As networks become more software-defined, there will be an increased need for greater visibility across the entire network and analytics to separate the signal from the increasing noise in the traffic.
There’s no question that the network has shifted to the center of the organization. Without it, we can’t collaborate with colleagues, engage customers and partners, and move business forward. In 2018, we’ll continue to see more resources dedicated to the network as the primary business enabler.