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5 Technologies that Could Change Networking in 2020

Harnessing and integrating emerging technologies will be critical to transforming the IT infrastructure in today’s digital economy.

The role of the IT network is changing. Traditional networking models—focused on achieving fast, reliable and ubiquitous connectivity—can no longer sustain the pace of innovation needed by businesses.

The new network needs to be in continuous harmony with the changing needs of the organization and adapt to emerging technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning―which are critical in managing the scale and complexity IT teams face.

As IT leaders look to align their network strategies to business priorities, it is no surprise that maximizing IT business value has become the top priority in Asia Pacific, as revealed in the 2020 Global Networking Trends Report by Cisco.

“That's why IT teams are embracing intent-based networking, AI and machine learning—because the business demands it," says Kartika Prihadi, Managing Director of Enterprise Networking in APJC, Cisco Systems. "AI will help IT break the cycle of maintaining the status quo to becoming an enabler of new business innovation."

Kartika Prihadi adds, “IT leaders and network strategists are bullish about their journey towards a more advanced network that can meet the demands of the digital era, with 78% of organizations in Asia Pacific actively planning to adopt service-driven or intent-based networking within two years.” (Figure 1)

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Figure 1: Cisco Digital Network Readiness Model

While there is still a long way to go before networks will have all the intelligence and power they need to deliver on this promise, advancements in key technology areas are well underway to form the foundation for this new networking model.

Right now, these technologies are well aligned to support the organization’s needs for increased scale, agility and security, and having an understanding of how they can be further integrated with IT networks and operations can provide insights into the changes we can expect in the future.

1. Automation
While software-defined networking has delivered substantial benefits, it has focused primarily on automating day zero and day one provisioning and configuration. The next step for IT leaders is to invest in an intent-based open platform that automates the complete network lifecycle and integrates seamlessly into the IT process.

Networking teams need to work together to build a roadmap that delivers on a strategy of closed-loop intent-based networking across each network domain to achieve the desired business intent and outcome. 

2. Artificial intelligence
The use of AI in the context of IT operations (AIOps) is becoming critical for operations, service delivery and network assurance.1

Networking professionals with considerable expertise will be needed to define how far AI can go before a human operator needs to intervene and verify that IT and business objectives are always achieved as intended.

3. Multicloud networking
There’s a perception that cloud diminishes the network’s relevance, but nothing is further from the truth. Combining on-premises hosted applications with multicloud services and edge computing will require an intent-based network that extends visibility, policy control and security to wherever data and workloads reside.2

Deploying software-defined WAN, direct cloud access, colocation facilities and cloud exchanges can ensure that cloud services effectively and affordably meet business requirements.

4. Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 and 5G
The combination of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, along with emerging capabilities such as OpenRoaming, will deliver on the promise of an always-on, high-quality user experience everywhere.

IT leaders need to consider how Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will affect future business requirements and shape their wireless strategy accordingly.

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5. Network security
Integrating security with intent-based-networking capabilities results in a powerful combination that streamlines effective policy enforcement, protection and remediation across the network.

A good plan is to develop network security capabilities in five key areas: visibility and threat detection, zero-trust access, continuous protection, trustworthy network infrastructure, and integrated security operations (SecOps) and network operations (NetOps) workflows.

Keen to know more?
Find out how Cisco is helping organizations migrate to a secure, automated intent-based network with Cisco DNA Center and Cisco DNA software subscription. For a limited time, enjoy exclusive offers when you apply for Cisco DNA Enrollment under a Cisco Enterprise Agreement.

1Cisco AI Network Analytics: Making Networks Smarter and Simpler to Manage,” Cisco Blogs, June 10, 2019
2Why Your Business Needs a New and Simpler Multicloud Network,” Cisco Blogs, Feb. 28, 2019