Future-proofing networks: what comes next

We’re excited about the future because we’re in the business of making solutions that take advantage of transformation in the IP infrastructure.

May 20th, 2020

We talked about how important it is (especially these days) to plan a sustainable future. Last week we looked at IoT and the unique challenges it creates. Now it’s time to look a bit further.

It’s useful to do this not because it requires an action today, but because actions today can make things easier in the future. Businesses are best served when their decisions are efficient and scalable long-term. Proactive strategy wins over reactive tactics.

Upgrading the world

The pace of technological evolution is ever-accelerating and relentless. The adoption of innovations matches that pace, driven by the end-consumer. Looking at the majority of North American households, adoption takes less and less time:

-    76 years for electricity

-    43 years for the refrigerator

-    27 years for the microwave

-    6 years for the internet

-    4 years for smartphones

-    2 years for social media

Business adoption (particularly in global enterprises) is much slower because of the scale and challenges of implementation, and is often further tempered by regulations. But change is coming for the corporate world all the same. (Channeling a little Thanos, there.)

Today is the yesterday of tomorrow

What may seem like an ephemeral consumer trend from the vantage point of a business can quickly turn into an essential component of corporate IT. A few examples have already happened (or about to happen), intertwined, and amplifying each other.

IoT’s smart toasters were the prelude for the Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT). Connected devices, both simple and complex, are now saving lives and fueling business decisions. It’s not long before Industry 4.0, a paradigm shift in the supply chain akin to the industrial revolutions before.

Automation (to be more efficient with time) and big data (to make smarter decisions on larger scales) prepared the way for AI. Autonomous systems are now a solid investment, adding value to both the supply chain (like manufacturing or trading) and the end customer (like self-driving cars).

Cloud computing has transformed the way businesses think about IT. And while it is still a hurdle that many companies need to clear, edge and fog computing are already fast approaching to serve the requirements posed by AI and IoT. Centralized cloud infrastructures create latency and availability issues that edge and fog approaches can mitigate.

And above all, big business is getting bigger. More companies are scaling to a global stage than ever before. With that scale comes the need for visibility to retain control, agility to keep investments sustainable, and interoperability to stay reliable.

Disruption is a vulnerability; transformation is a competitive advantage

Disruption is a dreaded word for any business. But the only difference between ‘disruption’ and ‘transformation’ is time to build intent. Disruption forces companies to change; transformation changes them on their own terms.

Resistance to innovation works less and less because technology is permeating our lives more and more. The time for which businesses can afford to hold out shortens in step with consumer adoption rising. Corporate IT is no longer a stronghold but a hub. BYOD is no longer an option but a fact.

If we’re allowed to make a math analogy here: 0 to the power of 0 is 1, because after decreasing for a while, it turns around and gains an increasing quality. We’re on the verge of the same phenomenon in how businesses treat IT, and networks in particular. Put it simply, “escaping ahead” is the most sensible action to take.

This is why looking at the future (or possible futures) is valuable for any responsible business executive.

Where to go from here?

While technology is evolving at an exponential pace, much of what’s coming is but a rearrangement of what we already have. Cloud didn’t change the way computing works: it moved it. IoT didn’t change the way networks are functioning: it scaled it. Whatever comes next will not change the fundamentals but use them differently.

At the end of the day, any machine from the smart toaster to the connected assembly station needs an IP address to connect to the network. DHCP will still be responsible for assigning the IPs to whatever is requesting them. And DNS will always translate the — often confusing and dynamically changing — numbers to memorable and human-readable names.

We’re excited about the future because we’re in the business of making solutions that take advantage of the “everything has changed, nothing is different” nature of IP infrastructure. Change is good news for us since the more complex and heterogeneous the network, the bigger the benefits of our product. We like the fact that we scale exceptionally well.

Tell us, what technology do you see your company adopting next? What does the future look like to you?