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Network Change is Inevitable: But What's Driving It?

March 01, 2017

Last month, we learned that organizational silos were the top offender to digital transformation. Antiquated approaches composed of siloed and rigid architectures are slowly giving way to a more open and collaborative approach. A key component of this transition is change in the network. The digital transformation taking place is driving change via innovation. Development in areas like connectivity, automation, SDN/NFV, the cloud, etc. – there’s quite a laundry list – is steering the shift; and in February’s community poll this change is what we explored.

In our most recent Transforming Network Infrastructure community poll the question posed was “What do you predict will drive the most networking changes in 2017?,” and your responses were all over the map. Let’s get into the results!

Automation is set to serve as the straw that stirs the drink, as it will empower the next generation of network solutions, and it seems the

Image via Pixabay

community agrees. With a third of respondents choosing “Automation,” it barely edged out the other options, and I can’t stress the importance of automation enough. Take a look at what the Linux foundation is doing with the Open Network Automation Platform Project (ONAP) as an example.  In merging ECOMP and OPEN-O, ONAP is creating what Amdocs Technology Group President Anthony Goonetilleke calls “the de facto industry standard for NFV/SDN automation and accelerate industry adoption.” Automating network management and orchestration is integral to the next generation of networking solutions.  The power of software compels you!

Video, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) took second in our poll for good reason. The AR and VR forecast is formidable, with the IDC predicting worldwide spending for 2017 at $13.9 billion, and by 2020 that number is projected to balloon to over $140 billion – For comparison’s sake, 2016 actual spend was $6.1. This is a burgeoning arena with use cases from marketing to the Industrial Internet of Things, and is a key driver in network transformation; requirements of the network are changing, so too must the network.

As the sun sets on copper, fiber optic connectivity is empowering the next generation of networking. With the above mentioned growing bandwidth demands, fiber optic connectivity is supporting the multi-gigabit Ethernet required in today’s always-on, always plugged-in world. Earning just shy of 25 percent of respondent support, with optical, we are seeing another area where software is surging.  For major players like Cisco, Legrand and ADVA, fiber optic connectivity is taking center stage.  

Curiously enough, Big Data & Storage fell to fourth in community favor, receiving 16 percent of responses. From data backup and recovery, to regulatory compliance, big data analytics, and a future of data driven decision making, I would think that the handling of data would be higher up on the priority food chain – but that’s just me, clearly. With the upcoming onslaught of IoT data on the horizon, and growing security concerns across the spectrum of industry, the way data is handled and stored should be front of mind. But again, maybe that’s just me?

In 2006, John Mayer was “Waiting on the World to Change;” little did he know the digital transformation was right around the corner. The network is a living, breathing entity that, with the innovation taking place, is in a state of constant change.  And if software continues its role as ambassador of change, I would expect 2017 to be a banner year in networking.

Don’t forget to make your voice heard in this month’s poll, “How do you adapt to the combination of new technology offerings and new demands from your customers?”, inquiring minds are dying to know!

Edited by Alicia Young

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