Networking Technology Trends 2024
Then, in 1854, the Atlantic Telegraph Company started construction of the first transatlantic cable to carry telegraph messages between the two continents. It became operational in 1858, allowing people across the Atlantic to send and receive messages within the same day – it was truly revolutionary!
Unfortunately, the cable failed after three weeks. The first reliable trans-Atlantic telegraph cable came into service in 1866 – after repeated failures in 1857, 1858 and 1865. In contrast, we can send real-time messages to someone halfway across the globe – be it video, audio, images or datasets.
In our modern era, businesses no longer need to experiment, fail, learn from failures and reinvent to establish or improve their networking capabilities. What they need to do is learn about the latest in networking technologies that can boost their communication and collaboration efficiency.
So, here are the top 5 Networking Technology Trends of 2024!
Imagine you’re working on a super-critical, deadline-bound document and bam – the office Wi-Fi goes down. Now, you cannot access or make the necessary changes to the online document, let alone mail it to your boss for review. You thank the modern invention of mobile data, use your smartphone’s Internet connection and work on the document. Whew!
You finally email it to your boss – but wait, he cannot access the file. Turns out the business network has crashed. The IT team is scrambling to get the network backup but it’s no easy task. After all, enterprise networks are a complex deployment of hardware, software and virtual components – figuring out what needs resolving (or restarting!) takes time.
Now, relax and take a deep breath – this was a hypothetical scenario designed to showcase how critical a business’ networking technologies are. From connecting your on-premises employees with remote workers to allowing various platforms to access the enterprise databases; day-to-day operational tasks rely on robust and healthy network components. To achieve this, businesses need to invest in the latest networking technologies – for instance, fiber optics, next-gen networks and AI automation, all trends we covered last year!
This year, business leaders will look to enhance networking capabilities to drive revenue using emerging strategies, future-proof network deployments and address consumer demands.
Read on for the top 5 Networking Technology Trends of 2024!
Trend 1: The Internet Of Behaviors (IoB) Will Necessitate Real-time Networking
We bet you’ve heard of IoT or the Internet of Things. However, an emerging IoT trend relies as much on real-time networking as it does on IoT devices. Say hello to the Internet of Behaviors (IoB)!
IoB, coined by technology research firm Gartner in its Top Strategic Technology Trends 2021, refers to a strategy that combines real-time analytics with IoT data to help businesses improve their understanding of customer behavior. It has the potential to give businesses immediate insights into consumer behavior, preferences and decision-making by utilizing information from IoT sensors, wearables and other data sources. The Internet of Behaviors will play a crucial role in connecting millions of data points to specific consumer behavior to drive personalization.
With improvements in areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics enabling simplified, accurate real-time insights, it is anticipated that IoB will become even more common in 2024. Żabka Nano, a chain of unmanned convenience stores in Poland has already started using self-checkout facilitated by AI-powered cameras and IoT devices that help gauge customer behavior, engagement patterns and preferences.
However, businesses will need to adopt the latest generation of networking hardware. IoT data is often unstructured and needs to be shared with a cloud server for processing and analytics. This means businesses will need to ramp up network speeds and bandwidth to fully leverage IoB strategies. As IoB will enable businesses to provide customers with super-personalized and targeted experiences in real-time, most IoB deployments will require networks that can not only allow back-and-forth of data from IoT devices and the cloud analytics platforms but also ensure its reliability and 24x7 uptime.
TechDogs’ Takeaway: The Internet of Behaviors is set to become an increasingly important technology, linking IoT insights with consumer behavior in innovative ways to drive targeted experiences. Businesses need to adopt new-age networks designed for IoB workloads, such as 5G networks that offer quicker speeds, lower latency and more reliable connectivity. This gives businesses the ability to handle massive amounts of IoT data at lightning-fast speeds as 5G networks are the standard for IoT technology. Secondly, IoB networks should be designed to be multi-modal as they handle various types of data, for instance: IoT-based data, geo-location data, biometric data, metadata, etc. Lastly, businesses must ensure network integration with their internal marketing platforms and point of sale (POS) systems via software-defined networking. This will help automate the IoB deployment by routing the IoT data, processed insights, etc. to the required endpoint.
Trend 2: Networks Will Answer Consumers’ Call For High-Resolution Content
Have you ever been watching Netflix when the visual quality suddenly dipped? Well, that will no longer be the case as network providers will address the consumer demand for high-resolution content in 2024!
Consumption of high-resolution content over online OTT platforms has increased as a result of the widespread adoption of smartphones and stable internet connections. The overall media and entertainment sector is benefiting from this increase in demand for high-resolution content, leading to higher engagement rates and subscriptions from consumers. Startups such as Singapore-based Tambora Systems and Israel-based FeatherCloud are developing decentralized cloud computing architectures that will stream high-resolution content with ease.
Moreover, the adoption of high-resolution content will lead to companies relying on information delivery that uses high-quality media such as HD images, videos or audio on websites. In fact, according to ElevationB2B, websites with high-resolution images take one second longer to load but “online consumers have come to expect more visually impactful content.” That’s not all, some businesses are even experimenting with new forms of information media, such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR), which necessitates a corresponding modification to their telecommunications and networking infrastructure.
Hence, in 2024, many businesses will look to future-proof their networking infrastructure to accommodate high-quality media content.
TechDogs’ Takeaway: One of the simplest steps for businesses would be to invest in 5G-driven Content Delivery Networks to reduce network congestion and improve the network’s load-handling capacity to improve the QoE (quality of experience) provided to end users. Secondly, for networks hosting live streaming or cloud-based gaming, network providers would benefit by using custom network routing hardware built for high resolution, leading to reduced lag and a seamless viewing experience for consumers. Lastly, enterprises looking to leverage AR/VR/MR-related media can explore high-performance hollow-core fiber optic cables (a trend we covered last year!) as these networks can carry more wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) channels for low-latency, high-bandwidth networks and high-resolution data.
Trend 3: Smaller Businesses Will Transition To Networking-as-a-
Have you heard of the Software-as-a-Service approach? Duh! This model relies on a cloud-based provider hosting apps or services that end users access via the Internet. This trend is quickly taking over the networking arena, allowing smaller businesses to outsource their networking demands! #NaasIsHere
The IT departments of startups or quickly growing SMBs struggle to cope with their dynamic networking demands. They are constantly balancing agility, resiliency and costs while finding a way to quickly adapt to new networking technologies. For smaller organizations, this might become challenging but that’s where Networking-as-a-Service (NaaS) will come into play!
NaaS will essentially allow small businesses to subscribe to hardware, virtualized or cloud-based networking components from a vendor rather than building it themselves, including aspects such as connectivity, maintenance, upgrades, analytics and so on. Leaders in the NaaS market such as Aryaka and Cradlepoint (acquired by Ericsson) have begun providing WAN and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) services while Akamai is providing Content Delivery Networks as a service.
In the words of Cisco’s former development chief Pankaj Patel, “Incumbents have tried to do NaaS for a long time. It’s been a buzzword in the industry forever.” Soon, NaaS will enable SMBs to access necessary network resources and applications from any location, using any device without incurring a significant upfront cost. NaaS provides a consumption-based model that will allow smaller organizations to deploy networking capabilities while incorporating customized programmable networking, managed software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), API-based operations and unified communications as a service.
TechDogs’ Takeaway: While the NaaS approach sounds good, some best practices need to be followed. Firstly, NaaS implementations need careful strategic planning. Business stakeholders must have a clear understanding of their network topology, organizational objectives and how the network infrastructure will help them to maintain the desired performance levels. Secondly, it is critical to conduct regular reviews of the NaaS deployment in order to implement a strong network security framework as security is an important but often overlooked component in NaaS approaches. Lastly, the majority of NaaS providers will provide businesses with networking resources that they manage and operate. However, businesses can reduce costs by renting hardware from NaaS vendors to operate and maintain on their own, especially if the organizations have qualified internal staff.
Trend 4: Communication Models Will Rule Wireless Networks
With the adoption of smart devices and IoT sensors by both individuals and businesses, we have seen an exponential increase in the volume and variety of networking channels. We mean, there are new networking channels today that go beyond the wildest imagination of just a decade ago!
Think of networks that support human-to-machine (H2M) interactions, machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions or vehicle-to-everything (V2X) interactions. As the data type and communication standard differ based on the entities involved, modern networks will need to deploy dedicated communication models that bridge the gap between various networked hardware. #WaitWhat?
Communication models will essentially be hard coded into various next-generation networks to enable automated networking between devices. Consider this: autonomous vehicles will require communication with the smart city infrastructure and one another. This will be achieved with wireless V2X (vehicle-to-everything) systems. With communication models, networks hosting V2X channels (such as Wi-Fi 6.0) will be able to perform operations with more precision and speed as the model will tune the network for V2X communications. Moreover, it will offer a wide range of services, including sharing geo-location data, emergency notifications, navigation support, infotainment, etc. while exchanging real-time vehicle information.
Nick Jones, research vice president at Gartner explains, “V2X will eventually become a legal requirement for all new vehicles. But even before this happens, we expect to see some vehicles incorporating the necessary network protocols.” These protocols will be made available to the networking hardware through communication models, allowing automated functionalities that improve the performance of autonomous networking systems.
TechDogs’ Takeaway: As the development of V2X, M2M and H2M hardware is underway, it is critical to remember there is no “one size fits all” approach to autonomous networking applications. Businesses should rely on specific communication models that are designed to handle specific applications. Moreover, the deployment of communication models in networking applications will need the expertise of network engineers, especially to understand the components and protocols used in the network. Lastly, startups designing networking protocols and communication models to automate X2X-type applications need to ensure their compatibility with 5G networks, as it will be the networking standard in the coming years.
Trend 5: SD-WAN Will Provide Improved Enterprise Networks
SD-WAN is not Obi-Wan’s distant cousin but a virtual network overlaid on physical networking infrastructure to define how applications and services function within the corporate Wide Area Network (WAN). The trend of software-defined networking (SDN) emerged last year and is quickly becoming the preferred alternative over traditional on-premises networking. Traditional WAN makes data and applications accessible at dispersed sites using multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). However, in today's cloud-centric IT environment, this strategy doesn't work well. Deploying, managing and supporting network connectivity across a variety of digital environments and endpoints is crucial for businesses.
To prevent network bottlenecks, SD-WAN selects the best route for network traffic among several transport methods, including wireless, MPLS, broadband, etc., while also giving more crucial traffic priority over other data packets. For example, video conference calls will always use the high bandwidth network whereas low-priority data transfer will use other channels. Hence, it will be crucial to use SD-WAN to optimize the networking infrastructure as it expands to support various data transmissions.
According to TeleGeography's 2022 WAN Manager Survey, SD-WAN adoption will increase each year, while MPLS's revenue share will decline by 55% over the next five years. Since large amounts of traffic can compromise the security outlook and user experience, businesses will adopt SD-WAN to provide access across the business network. This will lead to lower operational costs and improved data transmission efficiency. IDC's analysis of the effect of SD-WAN on businesses' bottom lines revealed that over five years, there was a 39% decrease in overall operating costs and a 38% increase in the effectiveness of network management.
TechDogs’ Takeaway: This year too, businesses will look to adopt software-defined wireless networks – but they need to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, businesses transitioning to SD-WAN need to evaluate whether they have the in-house talent to deploy or should opt for a managed service provider offering SLAs (service level agreements). Secondly, while SD-WAN optimizes the routing of network traffic, it does not inspect or secure the traffic – investing in a network security solution will go a long way! Finally, while SD-WAN resolves many networking challenges, it still requires underlying networking hardware that can be prone to hacking, especially if deployed at remote sites such as oil rigs or weather stations. Hence, businesses with a vast WAN coverage should opt for zero trust provisioning (ZTP) to ensure the hardware doesn’t contain any exploitable information about the enterprise network.
To Sum Up
Businesses, no matter the size, cannot effectively communicate and collaborate, gain real-time insights or perform any daily tasks without effective networking technologies. These top trends will assist them in optimizing, improving, securing and automating their enterprise networks, resulting in improved business outcomes. Enterprises will rely on integrated communication models and SD-WAN for optimized networks, while smaller businesses will look to outsource to NaaS providers. Customer-facing companies will transform network capabilities to leverage IoB strategies and adapt to the demand for high-resolution content.
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