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Will 2017 be the year of the autonomous network?

Karl Horne, Chief Technology Officer Asia Pacific, Ciena | Dec. 16, 2016
Karl Horne, CTO Asia Pacific, Ciena, shares some of his predictions for networking trends we may see in 2017, including self-driving networks and more

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Karl Horne, CTO Asia Pacific, Ciena

Looking back at 2016, and in particular at the predictions I made at this time last year, some of the same themes and issues we saw emerging look likely to set the tone for the next 12 months, too. There will be those that are particular to our region, such as the Indian government's Smart Cities Mission, with its target to create 100 smart cities by 2021, or the laying of new, high-capacity submarine cables. Whereas other trends will be more global, like the Pokémon GO phenomenon we saw this year. So let's take a closer look...

Self-Driving, autonomous networks emerge

Growth in customer demand for online services always leads to significant added pressure on networks for more bandwidth, which was one of the trends we highlighted 12 months ago as a 2016 pressure-point. That remains true today as highly popular video-on-demand (VOD) subscription services, be they from international players such as Netflix or homegrown Asian subscription services like Hooq or FilmKaravan, and the anticipation of enormous growth in Asian VOD subscriber numbers - from around 42 million in 2015 up to 158 million by 2021 - will increase this pressure exponentially. In addition, with augmented or virtual reality, the internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence, we'll continue to see new waves of applications and services that use breakthrough technologies and ultimately will change the way cloud-based resources are managed.

All of this means that we will start to see a new kind of network - one that can self-monitor and self-manage, constantly assessing bandwidth pressures and automatically adjusting or reallocating resources accordingly. This new era of programmable networking - with reach, latency, efficiency and cost policies defined by the network operator and executed by the network itself - has the potential to radically reduce the costs associated with design, implementation, and ongoing network evolution and provide a superior customer experience.

The next wave of opportunity for carriers arrives

While Google, Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, and many others have become the hero brands of the mobile data era, operators have become regarded as providers of a commodity service. However, opportunity might be about to come knocking again with two important trends that could put the telcos back in a positon of strength.

The first is IoT. Its emergence offers network providers the opportunity to establish a new position in the value chain. If telecoms firms want to take advantage of this, they need to position themselves to easily enable IoT platforms and applications. Why? Because according to IBM by 2020 there could be as many as 50 billion connected devices in use. That tremendous growth could be the chance operators have been waiting for, as IoT platform solutions will inherently rely upon on Carrier Cloud Infrastructure.


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