2016 trends in Networking

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2 January 2016
2016 Predictions

It’s a no brainer for anyone to predict that we will see more data created and moving into the cloud in 2016. Just look at the proliferation of smart devices predicted by Gartner, which has said that by 2018, consumers in mature markets will use and own more than three personal devices – as opposed to consolidating their devices. But this should not be surprising when you consider their definition of “smart devices”, which includes smartphones, tablets, convertibles (two in one devices), notebooks, and wearable such as smart watches, health bands, smart glasses as well as new connected devices such as smart cards, e-readers and portable cameras. In the wearables space alone, Gartner is forecasting a growth of 20 percent in 2016. No prizes for guessing where all the data generated from these devices need to be stored.

So with all this massive amount of data generated needing to move into and between networks and onto various cloud platforms, network operators and networking vendors are all looking to new technologies to keep pace with the massive scale of data movement. We take a look at some of the networking trends that industry players are predicting to take off in 2016.

SDN/NFV

There certainly was a lot of buzz around SDN and NFV in 2015, but it was mostly talking about trials and proof of concepts. 2016 is expected to see more production deployments of SDN but no one is betting that it would be mainstream just yet.

Software-based networks are clearly the future, predicted networking firm Brocade, and they are also predicting that the increasing deployment of x86 server architecture will accelerate this transformation, replacing specialized networking hardware such as Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) with virtualized models.

Service providers will certainly be adopting more NFV as they realize that they can do more with software on their networks and their data centres. What these network virtualization technologies could facilitate and enable is the rise of more virtual telcos – MVNOs, especially in markets where regulations are not prohibitive to competition.

Open Source Networking

Open Source networking platforms spanning different parts of the networking ecosystem are predicted to gain more steam. You’ve got OpenStack, Open Network Operating System, OpenDaylight and projects like OpenNMS, Ryu and IOVisor just to name a few, getting more downloads and deployments, as well as contributions from major vendors. You could build your entire network service provider platform on open source solutions but the challenge remains for many enterprises of finding the talent and support to confidently deploy open source platforms in their existing architecture.

Network Analytics

Along with the virtualization of network functions through NFV comes the availability of more network data, hence network analytics will be a key focus areas for network operators and enterprises. Beyond just crunching log files, they will be looking to extract more intelligence and efficiency from their networks – with the ultimate aim of automating some network functions to scale their networks dynamically and cope with growing traffic demands.

Network security

Network security will remain a high priority on the list of any service provider and enterprise. Together with the migration of data into the cloud and high profile hacks in 2015 such as that on Ashley Madison, there certainly isn’t anyone who thinks security is something that they could take their eyes off. It’s certainly noteworthy that with more parts of the network virtualized, security services can likewise be virtualized and be more pervasive across the network. And security is high enough on everyone’s list that we’ll take a closer look at it in a following article.