The networking market is regularly adjusting its hardware and software components to meet the growing data demands of users, both in corporate and residential settings.
Networking use cases and network solutions are expanding as the cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and edge computing markets continue to grow.
Learn about some of the top networking trends that are spearheading or supporting these technological changes in the market:
5 Top Networking Trends
- Enterprise network strategy in the user’s home
- Networking with remote AI support
- The growth of intent-based networking (IBN)
- Holistic networking offerings
- Managing network data with different ops methodologies
Also read: Top 10 Enterprise Networking Companies
The COVID-19 pandemic and changing workforce expectations have led many companies to a more globally distributed remote workforce.
As a result, enterprise networking infrastructure now has to support users in their individual homes.
Drit Suljoti, co-founder and CTO of Catchpoint, a digital experience monitoring platform provider, explained that consumer-grade networking technology does not always offer the levels of support and visibility necessary for remote work, which is increasingly becoming a problem.
“Organizations across the board have experienced the frustrations and performance volatility that can result from consumer-grade WiFi, VPN clients, and increased dependence on the internet from the employee’s wider household,” Suljoti said. “At the ground level, how can IT support desks ensure they have the necessary visibility into the daily digital life of their remote employees?
“These mission-critical teams need the ability to understand the digital performance of an individual’s device, network, and applications, and the third-party providers they rely on. This is even more essential when employees are working remotely, without on-site support to troubleshoot performance issues.”
Bob Friday, VP and CTO of Mist, Juniper’s artificial intelligence (AI)-driven enterprise business, believes that many companies are starting to respond to this remote work shift by increasing networking security and monitoring in their employees’ remote work environments.
“[A] major shift is in how enterprise-level networking trends are becoming increasingly important for personal users as well,” Friday said. “Whether you’re an executive at a company or you work in a profession that puts you into contact with sensitive information, the continued normalization of remote and hybrid work environments means that enterprise-grade networking and security will move into the home networking space.
“To ensure end-to-end network visibility, reliability, and security, we can expect enterprise-grade networking solutions to begin permeating remote and hybrid workforces, as enterprise IT teams take an even sharper look at their network edge.”
More on networking and security: Network Security Market
Users and enterprise devices often need technical support that was normally provided in the office.
As remote work continues to become a standard approach, many companies are adopting AI solutions to assist with customer experience (CX) and support requirements of the network.
“More help is needed in managing this critical infrastructure, which is why AI has become a necessity for network management,” said Friday with Mist. “Enterprises and technology providers have already adopted AI assistants in their networking support teams. Cloud AI has enabled a new tech support model, one that has created the volume and quality of data necessary to train AI technologies.
“This AIOps model has led to incredible progress. At present, AI can answer up to 70% of support tickets with the same effectiveness as a domain expert. Eventually, this AIOps technology will move all the way to the end-user.
“And like the average human employee, AI has the ability to learn and improve over time, thus providing a better customer experience consistently and proactively. But unlike the average human employee, that skill and expertise is not lost when they retire or quit. The more that AI is used as part of the IT help desk, the more the technology can improve its answers and, ultimately, the end-user experience.”
Networking technology continues to grow more sophisticated. Particularly with the more widespread use of software-defined networking (SDN), intent-based networking is being used more in enterprise networks that want additional business intelligence (BI), configuration management, and other features embedded in their networks.
Eric McGee, senior network engineer at TRGDatacenters, a data center vendor, explained why IBN is helpful to network administrators who want to better understand and manage their networks.
“One important networking technology trend that network engineers need to take note of is the emergence of intent-based networking,” McGee said. “The main role of IBN is to capture business intent and apply these insights across the network, ensuring that network administration is aligned with business intent. In other words, the IBN framework will receive an intent from the business and translate it, or encode it into the configuration of the network, resulting in the desired changes. Now, the network infrastructure is aligned to the business’s current needs.
“IBN also enables the automation of network administrative tasks involved, such as the configuration of networks, mitigation of risks, as well as the reporting and solving of network issues. Implementing IBN as a form of network administration makes the process of creating, managing, implementing, and monitoring network policies easier, simpler, and less labor-intensive. A lot of the manual effort put into traditional configuration management is made redundant when IBN is implemented.”
Traditional networking solutions typically need a variety of hardware and software components to work properly. However, as networks continue to evolve their software-defined, cloud, and edge, and solutions, many networking vendors are offering more holistic networking packages to manage every aspect of the network.
Patrick MeLampy, Juniper Fellow at Juniper Networks, a top global networking company, believes that enterprise client-to-cloud connectivity is one of the biggest drivers behind more unified networking packages.
“I’d have to say that there are a few key networking trends that are gaining steam and should be big next year,” MeLampy said. “Enterprise client-to-cloud connectivity service offerings will take off. This means we’ll see Wi-Fi, wired, routing, and security capabilities pulled together, all in one simple offering, making it more efficient and effective for teams to manage ever-expanding networks.”
More on networking offerings: Guide to Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)
With more software- and cloud-based networking solutions used across the board, a number of companies are looking into new ways to manage and read their networking data.
Richard Larkin, manager of North America sales engineering at NetBrain, a next-gen network operations company, believes that the knowledge and approach of different ops teams are particularly applicable to new ways of automating network data management.
“The days of managing networks with SNMP polling and traps as well as syslog data are almost over,” Larkin said. “Many enterprises still leverage these telemetry sources, but it’s not enough. We need a more comprehensive solution harvesting data, from API, CLI, packet, netflow, and other sources, to get the complete picture as well as visibility into SD-WAN, SDN, cloud, and SaaS offerings.
“A trend that I am seeing is the blending and blurring of lines between NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps. With networks becoming more software-defined and cloud-based, organizations are trying to fill the gap of the traditional network monitoring data (SNMP, syslog, etc.) with homegrown solutions using Python, Ansible, and other coding. What would be interesting is if there was an easier way to codify the knowledge of the NetOps teams that required minimal coding and can be produced in minutes, not hours, days, and weeks.
Read next: The Networking Market