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The future of
networks:
What the future
of network
management holds

Author: Shane Schick

The future of network management is already being written, but not on paper. Rather, it's the initiatives organizations are pursuing to transform customer and employee experiences that are setting up the trends that will define the next five to 10 years.

Today, for instance, companies are using mobile devices and applications to extend the reach of information to where it's needed, whether enabling remote work for team members or allowing consumers to shop from their smartphones.

As powerful as these capabilities are, they mark the beginning of a transition to what many now describe as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is the era in which the advances we've gained from technologies like the internet and cloud computing open up to new innovations that blur the lines between physical, digital and even biological spheres.

5G is a critical infrastructure backbone for these innovations because they will often involve low-latency, high-bandwidth applications, and other network requirements that will make use of its currencies. Thinking through the future of network management now will help ensure organizations make the right investments to prepare themselves.

The future of networks

As with earlier industrial revolutions like the steam engine and the assembly line, the future of networks could reshape entire economies. That's because the future of network management will be more:

1. Cognitive

Many people have grown accustomed to using voice-activated personal assistants on their smartphones to look up information or help plan their agenda for the day. Now, imagine a not-too-distant future in which two virtual assistants "consult" with each other to schedule a meeting, reserve a restaurant or come up with gift ideas.

This kind of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is just one example of how the future of network management is all about fostering experiences where technology is "cognitive," or able to reason much like humans do.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools will also help companies streamline the logistics of product delivery or determine the next best action to take based on consumer behavior, macroeconomic fluctuations and even the weather. And of course, autonomous vehicles will depend on cognitive capabilities, too.

Getting there will involve generating even more data than we see today, which, in turn, will demand sophisticated analytics capabilities. We'll also need an improved ability to monitor and manage large volumes of cloud-based traffic across hybrid environments.

2. Trustworthy

As the future of network management allows organizations to harness the power of increasingly intelligent applications, though, they will also have to ensure the data is not at risk of being stolen or manipulated.

This starts with best-in-class network reliability to ensure data isn't lost through unexpected downtime and zero trust access to limit applications to only authorized users. Cyber security tools will also continue to mature to not only block threats but identify patterns of malicious activity that strengthen an organization's defenses.

In fact, network operations features and IT security functions may converge as the relationship between performance and data protection become interlinked.

5G's service deployment attributes, meanwhile, mean organizations can use technologies such as blockchain to deploy "smart contracts" that automatically execute legal agreements in a trustworthy manner.

3. Immersive

Students at all levels have grown accustomed to watching videos to bring subjects like history to life. The rapid end-to-end latency of 5G in the future of network management, however, will usher in the ability to simulate the experience of living in previous eras through technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Outside of school, the future of network management could offer incredible efficiencies and a productivity boost by using the same technologies for field service repairs, enhanced online shopping and more.

In time, the future of networks will also see more organizations combining VR with telepresence and "digital twin" technology to allow employees to operate machinery or even drive vehicles from a remote location like the office or even their home.

Delivering experiences as immersive as these will certainly add complexities to network management, given that a single action could require data traveling across a mixture of wired, wireless and virtual networks. That's why organizations will need visibility into every segment of the network to troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly and easily.

Fortunately, most of the building blocks the future of network management requires are all readily available today.

Discover how the expertise of managed service providers like Verizon can help organizations make the most out of the future of networks and automation.