25 years of networking: The past, present and future

Article member

Network technologies are at the heart of today’s digital world. From ordering food, sending videos to a friend, connecting and empowering students and teachers, or remote business management, the network is revolutionizing the way we work and communicate. In the last year alone, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for investment in digital innovation. As Extreme Networks approaches its 25th anniversary, I thought it appropriate to look back on a quarter of a decade of innovation in the network space and look to the future to see what trends will shape the next 25 years of our industry.

Looking back – The introduction of wireless networks

Let’s start in 1997, a year after the founding of Extreme, when the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the 802.11 standard we now know as Wi-Fi. Simply put, Wi-Fi is a technology that allows a computer, laptop, cell phone, or tablet device to connect at high speed to the Internet without the need for a physical cable connection. Wi-Fi works on the same principle as other wireless devices, using radio signals to transmit information between your Wi-Fi devices and the Internet, allowing the device to receive information from the network.

Wi-Fi quickly became widespread and Internet access is now considered a must for people in all walks of life. Today, wireless connectivity is built into almost any device that generates or uses data, whether in homes, offices, shopping malls, or public spaces. In fact, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance, more than 15 billion Wi-Fi products are used worldwide – all designed to make our lives simpler, faster, safer and more enjoyable.

Software Defined Network (SDN) Flexibility

As a result of the monumental growth in cloud computing, the increasing use of mobile devices, and the constant desire to reduce current business costs, many organizations have been looking for a way to revolutionize network design and operations. To achieve just that, in early 2010 the software-defined network (SDN) is gaining momentum as a popular approach to achieving a flexible and flexible network.

SDN allows the user to design, build and manage networks, separating the control and redirection planes, removing the basic infrastructure for applications and network services, and making the control plane directly programmable. Through SDN, IT teams can consistently manage the entire network and its devices, regardless of the complexity of the underlying network technology. With a properly configured SDN environment, it is easier and more cost-effective to allocate computing power to remote sites, move data center functions to the edge, accept cloud computing, and maintain Internet of Things (IoT) environments.

The advent of Wi-Fi 6

Debuting in 2019, Wi-Fi 6 is the latest iteration of standards and is designed from scratch to increase stability and reduce power consumption without compromising performance – especially for IoT devices. Providing up to 30 times better speeds than its predecessor and further improving support for dense device environments, Wi-Fi 6 promises to enable new uses for IoT, AR / VR, online gaming and video streaming.

In addition to speed, Wi-Fi 6 is orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), allowing bandwidth to be segmented into channels. The advanced multi-band connectivity of Wi-Fi 6 allows it to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, using the right frequency for each device to reduce network voltage and protect performance.

Looking Ahead – Autonomous Networks Managed by AI

Looking to the future, the demand for rapidly deploying network services is beginning to outpace the readiness of the IT team to fulfill these requests. By using the capabilities of automation and AI technology, processes can be streamlined, which means that IT staff can focus on more strategic projects and tasks. This allows teams to automatically monitor network data by collecting data in real time, providing the team with information about which devices and applications consume the most bandwidth, and speeding up troubleshooting.

As networks become larger, faster and more durable, the stand-alone network will be implemented – going beyond the basic possibilities of automation to become fully self-sufficient. In addition to analyzing system data and extracting knowledge from it, it will learn and help identify and use hidden patterns. For example, a stand-alone network can help transplant a heart where it needs to be in time for surgery, power next-level robotics, and find missing people with IP cameras on roads and highways.

The rise of the network as a service

With the effects of the pandemic likely to put more pressure on business resources and lead to budget cuts, Network-aa-Service (NaaS) business models will emerge as a key trend. NaaS is an emerging model that allows users to easily manage the network and achieve the results they expect from it without owning, building or maintaining their own infrastructure, through flexible subscriptions for operating costs – including hardware, software, management tools, licenses. and life cycle services.

Offering organizations a cost-effective solution for strong and reliable connectivity. This will give businesses the flexibility to expand and reduce network services on demand, entirely based on business needs. By removing the pressure on the network as well as the inherent costs, the organization can transfer responsibility to a trusted third party partner. Ultimately, thanks to the NaaS model, businesses will have a choice between investing in physical networks or outsourcing partial or full network operations and outsourcing.

The future of networks

No organization should be limited or constrained by the way people, applications, or devices connect. As a result of the ongoing pandemic and the associated increase in remote work, businesses have realized the importance of networks more than ever. In the coming years, network technologies will be one of the main beneficiaries of investments in digital transformation. With different technologies aimed at streamlining network operations and empowering IT teams to focus on more strategic, transformative projects, the next 25 years will be just as – if not more exciting – than the last.

This was posted in the news section of Bdaily members by

John Morrison, SVP International Markets, Extreme Networks