The Future of Networking in 2017

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The networking market, like all technology streams, is gearing up for some noticeable changes as 2017 dawns. Traditionally a conservative market, it is now taking the form of a radically progressive arena, as it gets ready for some major changes. Here is a look at what one can expect to see in networking domains in the coming year.

Networking will get set to become more flexible and accessible, in line with the customer demands. Also, the industry shall address the points of concern such as network security and affordability for all.

  1. Software defined networking will dominate: As software as a service increasingly doles out convenience and cost effectiveness to the organization of today and tomorrow,  software-defined networking (SDN) shall gain more popularity with enterprises. The industry is seeing a flux, with software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), becoming more and more mainstream. Carriers are teaming up with vendors to cater to customer’s networking needs. In fact, 2017 has been declared as the year of the SD-WAN, in the recently convened ONUG convention. The flavour for 2017 will be consolidation, and we expect to see the 30+ niche providers in this field, join hands in multiple ways to deliver value in networking.
  2. Open source will prevail: Come 2017, and open source will not be a prerogative of software, but shall extend to networking solutions. Solutions such as OpenDaylight and OPNFV have been introduced, which bring together telecom and cloud service providers. We can look forward to a mindset change, where traditional companies lap up the open-source movement. An example that is already live is the announcement by Linux, about the appointment of a new Networking & Orchestration manager to cater to open source innovation in networking.
  3. Orchestration will evolve: SDN is no doubt the way ahead in networking, but this must be complemented with agile orchestration to drive the open networking agenda. The customer is demanding more real-time deployments, forcing solutions providers to turn to agile mechanisms to deliver at speed. It is imperative to utilize the right orchestration tool to make deliveries seamless and smooth. Open source tools such as Open-O and OS-MANO are a good option to start off with. Make sure you select the best orchestration platform to suit your business and customer needs.
  4. Margins will reduce: A grave reality for hardware is that margins will reduce, as most solutions and services become software-driven. The fact remains, that it is very difficult to achieve differentiation through pure play hardware. It will be important for networking players to watch their numbers, while on the journey to software- defined networking.
  5. M&A will increase: One can expect a host of merger and acquisition activity in the year 2017, as the industry gets ready for change. Some business units will spin-off, while others may join into partnerships. Niche players with in-demand capabilities such as SDN can be expected to be taken over by the biggies with the money.
  6. Security will be a priority: The spate of cyber breaches in 2016 have already set the stage for more focus on network security solutions and services- something that cannot be ignored. Pure network solutions may cease to exist, as they come bundled with network security add-ons. Organizations will need to decide on what balance they wish to achieve between flexibility and control. The flexible-friendly ones may opt SDN and NFV.
  7. Wi-Fi requirements will be more connected: With the Internet of Things to get going in the coming year, single access point-Wi-Fi will be redundant. To connect the number of gadgets and appliances, consumers will turn to wireless mesh systems. As IoT becomes popular with home consumers, companies shall turn to providing such services in the area of consumer networking. This shall give rise to an entirely new market.

These are some of the technology disruptions to watch out for in 2017. Networking will not be an enigmatic entity somewhere far off, but it will be brought closer to home, closer to the common consumer for everyday ease of communication.

Author: Jessica Smith

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