Anyone remotely involved in designing, deploying and running their organization’s network is very aware that they are changing drastically. Experts are abuzz with predicting how emerging technologies will drive changes in operations and talent over the next few years. We at Cisco also got into the act with our inaugural 2020 Global Networking Trends Report, which covers all of the major trends in wireless, AI/ML, automation, cloud and more.

At Cisco, we’re curious about what other experts in networking think, too.  In a video from Network World on 5G, IoT, AI/ML and Wi-Fi 6: 2020 networking predictions, Juliet Beauchamp and Ken Minges, as well as IDC’s senior research analyst Brandon Butler talk about the future of networking.

It’s interesting to note that IDC sees so much transition in networking that for the first time they published a separate “enterprise networking predictions” report.

Here are a few of the insights from the interview with Brandon Butler that I found most interesting:

Brandon Butler(BB): “We are seeing mainstream adoption of cloud, mobile or social. We are in the second chapter of the third platform, and as organizations adopt these technologies, they are seeing increased innovation—innovation at scale.”

Prashanth Shenoy(PS): Brandon is partially right. This mainstream adoption of new technologies is forcing companies to innovate. However, it has become increasingly clear over the past several months that organizations need to get smarter about how they respond to whatever disruptions lay ahead. How they protect their people, their assets and their ongoing operations. Never has the network been more important in providing a platform for organizations to be more agile and resilient in the face of the unexpected.

BB: “Self-driving networks will incorporate AI/ML in order to better manage the network, including troubleshooting, security and automating processes.”

PS: It’s already here and there’s more to come. We’ve been focused on making the “self-driving network” goal a reality for a number of years. Like the rest of the industry, we refer to this as “intent-based networking (IBN)”. We announced the initial set of machine learning capabilities for IBN in 2019 and are hard at work, with additional innovations in this area across access, WAN and data center/multicloud networks.

BB: “5G is a big trend, but it won’t replace Wi-Fi. It will be a hybrid world, and Wi-Fi is going to work with 5G to cover both indoor (Wi-Fi) and outdoor (5G) use cases”.

PS: Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will be intertwined. We see the combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrums as an area of huge importance for all organizations. In embracing a vision that leverages the full wireless spectrum, Cisco is enabling mobile users to seamlessly roam by combining the transformative speeds and capabilities of public 5G with an organization’s own intent-based networking, including Wi-Fi 6.

BB: “Networking enables enterprises to access technologies like cloud and mobile.” The vast amount of connectivity needed has forced enterprises to rethink the structure of their networks in order to accommodate this change.

PS: Totally agree: Cloud + Mobility = Agility. The emergence of distributed applications and hyperconnected mobile users means that the network needs to be able to continually readjust at scale to new requirements. It’s important for you to consider how the network will keep pace by using emerging technologies like insights-driven automation and closed loop intent-based networking to augment human operators.

BB: “Organizations aren’t just using one cloud. They’re using multiple cloud platforms and looking to extend from their on-premises data centers to the cloud.”

PS: Absolutely, multicloud requires new WAN and data center network architectures. Multicloud is definitely another trend: Think about your own enterprise: you may have one cloud platform for HR functions, one for CRM functions; you may use Office 365 or Google Docs for document management, and you likely host your enterprise’s website in the cloud. Multicloud will need to be supported by SD-WAN and other new architecture elements such as direct cloud access, colocation facilities and cloud exchanges. Data Center software-defined networks will also need to extend policy-based security and automation across hybrid and multicloud environments.

BB: “It’s much easier to secure on prem than it is a cloud you don’t control.”

PS: The new risks introduced by multicloud and mobile require a holistic zero-trust approach. This means finding a simple and integrated way to implement zero-trust across the workforce, workplace and workload. And delivering a cloud-based security internet gateway at the edge.

BB: “When you talk about networking, Cisco is one of the biggest names. We’ve seen a lot of innovations from them, not just in [hardware] but in software management platforms.”

PS: Unsurprisingly, a resounding YES from me! Throughout my time at Cisco, I have not experienced the level of innovation we have seen at Cisco over the last 3 years. We are committing huge resources to helping your IT teams on this journey. A journey to an AI-enabled intent-based networking platform across access, WAN, DC, and multicloud, that can scale to provide your organization the agility and resilience it needs – without breaking the back of your NetOps teams.

IDC’s predictions align very closely with the predictions our experts made in our 2020 Global Networking Report. In the report, we discuss:

  • The importance of prioritizing investment in the network and un-siloing the network to allow it to support business needs, like multicloud, mobile and more.
  • How rapidly changing technologies are driving new network demands, from mobility and IOT to multicloud, AI and microservices.
  • Intent-based networking and how it takes business need and translates it into intent, security policies, device classification, augmented segmentation and assurance and remediation.
  • 5G and Wi-Fi 6 and how OpenRoaming will create a seamless experience, inside, outside, and in areas of large network demand.

…and a lot more. Are you ready to find out if your network is ready for the future?  We have an assessment here that can help.

Download our 2020 Global Networking Trends Report


Watch the full session from Network World (opens in new tab):
Tech Talk — 5G, IoT, AI/ML and Wi-Fi 6: 2020 networking predictions



Prashanth Shenoy

Vice President of Marketing

Enterprise Networking and Mobility