Network 2020: Connecting Everyone to Everything


While 2010 marked the dawn of a new era in communications
we are now seeing innovations that have opened up global communication and
commerce. This is just a warm up for what will come in the next decade. John
Samuel, Area Vice president, India, Verizon, discusses how networks will evolve
to support an insatiable appetite for constant communication, information, and
entertainment and, how, over the next 10 years, everyone and everything will be
connected – everywhere.


Network Evolution: The Next 10 Years


To meet future needs, today’s networks are already
undergoing major changes. Advancements in the way technology components relate,
including moving toward a more service-oriented architecture, provide increased
bandwidth flexibility, more rapid provisioning of network services, and put
much more control in the hands of the enterprise. These network changes, along
with user demand, produce trends that reduce the challenges of today and
introduce new solutions for tomorrow.


Increasingly Intelligent Networks


Embedded intelligence will make network control more
automated, dynamic, and flexible. In the coming decade, communication between
network components won’t be tightly tied to specific hardware, but will instead
reside in an interoperable standards-based control layer so that newly-added
network components can signal themselves to the other network components,
allowing dynamic configuration.


Networks are moving towards being more effectively
application aware. This means they will provide different service levels,
depending on the application. Application-aware Virtual Private Network (VPN)
tools enable organizations to achieve prioritized levels of performance for
Private IP network applications such as VoIP, enterprise resource planning
(ERP), and video. The proper network assessment, reporting, dynamic bandwidth,
and packet-marking tools let organizations closely monitor performance, make
adjustments, and achieve cost efficiencies.


Over the next 10 years, networks will become more
resilient as their self-healing capabilities become more sophisticated and
effective. Mesh networks will be pervasive throughout the world. They will
provide automatic restoration and real-time management of voice and data
traffic by intelligently rerouting traffic around any damaged components to
another point in the mesh. Going forward, a new generation of application-aware
networking services will launch, enabling networks to sense and dynamically
adapt its resources to the needs of applications running over them.


Pervasive Bandwidth


In the years ahead, multimedia applications will continue
to increase. The surge includes 3-D video, video sharing, video monitoring,
conferencing, and streaming – all in higher definition than is possible today. As
an example of the trend, a 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland caused a sharp
rise in video conferencing. Globally, mobile data traffic will double every
year through 2014, and will grow to 3.6 exabytes per month. This increased
volume will cause data traffic to skyrocket and require capacity not currently


The growth of bandwidth-intensive applications will make
dynamic and on-demand bandwidth capabilities routine. In many cases, businesses
will be able to upgrade bandwidth almost instantly, without human intervention,
triggered by consumption patterns and parameters set in advance. Organizations
may pay for underlying capacity and then peak bandwidth and data transfer
utilization, in a model similar to today’s commercial electricity suppliers.


Wireless will realize the most impactful bandwidth
milestone. Fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks will bring broadband
capacity to mobile devices at rates approaching, and potentially surpassing, 10
times the current capacity.


Pervasive IP Connectivity


As technology platforms continue to evolve, the barriers
between wireless and wired networks and devices around the world will
eventually disappear. Consumers and businesses will expect their applications
to move seamlessly between platforms, no matter which network they’re connected
to at the moment. And they’ll demand access to all of their content – regardless
of where it’s stored – anytime, anywhere, and on any device.


This trend is already underway with fixed mobile
convergence (FMC), where mobile phones transparently switch a voice call in
progress between the cellular network and VoIP. The goal of FMC is to provide a
seamless transition of voice, data, and even video communications between
different types of networks, no matter the location or what device is used,
providing the user with an optimized, always available experience. Soon it will
be commonplace to continually watch a television show or video presentation
while moving between devices.


The move toward 4G technology is pushing networks closer
toward FMC. In the near term, LTE will enable billions, perhaps trillions, of
devices to connect. Wireless sensors will then integrate everyday items, such
as household appliances and medical monitoring equipment and businesses will
widely deploy Machine to Machine (M2M) wireless communications solutions to
track assets, remotely monitor inventory, and ensure that distant equipment is
operating properly.


Everything as a Service


Today, IT leaders are embracing cloud-based services.
What initially began as software as a service (SaaS), cloud services grew to
include more types of services, such as applications, servers, software, data
center space, storage, and network equipment. Some of the significant benefits
to using virtualized infrastructure are reduced capital costs and less IT support
to administer, compared to traditional approaches.


Purpose-built Solutions


A trend in the next decade will be purpose-built networks
that solve particular business requirements. By separating the network
functions or services from the technology, businesses can specify a custom
network to suit particular business needs. In the past, a physical network
would have been built to accomplish this. Virtualization of these services will
make it possible to create a logical network without building a physical network.


Through 2020, the VPN and private cloud trends will
continue. While lingering concerns about availability and security will
encourage many enterprises to participate in private cloud-based
interconnections for key relationships, the flexibility of Internet-based
connections have enormous and growing appeal. However, even in industries like
financial services, where the largest players tend to be late adopters of many
technologies, a marked shift away from physical private networks and toward
MPLS-based private cloud networks exists.


To conclude, the next decade brings exciting new
innovations and changes, powered by unlimited, instantaneous access and the
expansive reach of converged global connectivity. Intelligent devices of every
size, shape, and function will seamlessly interconnect users, businesses, and
governments to create new connections that enable smarter people and a more
intelligent world. Just think of the possibilities!


By John Samuel, area vice president, India, Verizon


[email protected]