The Stack Archive Article

The network of the future is here

Wed 25 May 2016

There has been a lot of talk about the network of the future. But what does it actually mean? And why should your organization adopt it?

Put simply, the network of the future means taking the principles that have enabled cloud to transform the way we think of software and applying them to the network. Just as software and data are now delivered remotely, future networks will be virtualized. What previously required the order, delivery and installation of a piece of hardware can now be ordered, installed and configured in moments at the click of a button.

Clearly that offers tremendous benefits to a business. It’s faster, easier and more efficient to make changes to the network once you a freed from a reliance on hardware. But the advantages extend well beyond simple convenience. Network of the future is not about doing old things faster. It allows some fundamentally new ways of doing business.

Future networks in action

In our latest report we look at three business scenarios that use future networking technology, drawn from different industries. They show how, rather than mere incremental improvements, the technology lets them think of their business in entirely new ways.

Take the example of a bank. We may have ATMs, online banking and telephone call centres, but the average branch has been largely untouched by technology. Customers wait in line to speak to a teller in a process that has been mostly the same for decades.

Not only is that inefficient, it’s expensive. Lots of costly real estate, staff who may sit idle for parts of the day during quiet periods.

Advanced network technology such as SD-WAN makes it easy to set up fast, cheap and flexible connections, opening up an enormous range of new possibilities. Branches could host video kiosks allowing customers to speak to a staff member in the existing call center. The technology could also be introduced into a bank’s existing ATM network. In fact, it’s possible to reduce the number of fixed branches by introducing mobile branches that could help reduce or eliminate rental costs altogether.

 

Building blocks

The technology to do all of this is not that complex: it all exists today. What’s needed is the desire to start thinking about the network as an enabler of new ways of doing business.

The two main building blocks are SDN and SD-WAN. SDN virtualizes network functions. That not only eliminates the need for expensive hardware, but also dramatically shortens installation time. Want to add a new security layer for example? Just request it via and online portal and it will be set up automatically in near real-time.

SDN-WAN lets you create networks using multiple connections from multiple vendors seamlessly and easily. As we reported in our recent The Future of Infrastructure report, it will account for 40% of networking spending by 2018.

The network of the future allows some incredible opportunities. Rather than acting as a roadblock, the network becomes and enabler of new processes and revenue streams. But getting it right requires the right partner, ideally one with global presence. Get that right and you can enjoy the full benefits of the network of the future.

Read the full report and infographic

Interested in an SDN Awareness workshop for your company?  Register your interest

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