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Future of networking technology relies on 5G, edge computing

In this roundup of networking blogs, experts discuss the key trends they look forward to in 2020 and how these advancements could benefit networking's future.

All eyes are on the disruptive technologies the industry can expect in 2020 and in the future of networking technology. At the top of the list are 5G services, edge computing infrastructure and WAN technologies.

Three networking bloggers recently explored what the future of networking technology may hold and predicted that innovative technologies -- and the hype that bogged down the networking industry throughout 2019 -- will continue to shape the future of networking. Technologies such as 5G and edge computing will play key roles in network infrastructure transformation, while WAN technologies will continue to grow and thrive.

As WAN connectivity steadily improves and more organizations deploy WAN technologies -- including software-defined WAN -- the number of enterprise locations that solely use internet WAN connectivity could triple by 2023. In 2019, fewer than 10% of these locations had only internet WAN connectivity, according to Andrew Lerner, research vice president at Gartner. Lerner also predicted 60% of data center operations will be automated by 2023.

In addition, the next big thing in the future of networking technology isn't universal customer premises equipment, Lerner said; it's Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE. SASE is a single cloud platform that combines an organization's network and security services, and Lerner predicted SASE will see significant growth -- the largest amount of growth compared to other disruptive technologies -- in the early 2020s.

"By 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE, up from less than 1% at year-end 2018," Lerner said.

Delve further into Lerner's thoughts on the future of networking technology in the 2020s.

5G isn't here, but it's the future of networking technology

One arguably definitive fact that experts can agree upon is that 5G will not see widespread deployment in 2020. However, 5G will set the stage for the future of networking technology and, in particular, a new type of network model, according to Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. Beyond the anticipated 5G New Radio deployments and this new network model, Nolle said 5G likely won't do much else in 2020.

The new network model, Nolle said, is a shift in how operators deal with incremental enhancement and modernization for their networks. Because many 5G deployments will be new -- and 5G networks will exist where networks haven't existed before -- strict guidelines and a one-size-fits-all service don't exist for 5G networks. This drives the need for a new, open network model that will be based more on open source or open hardware capabilities, which vendors will likely attempt to conquer throughout 2020.

"[F]or this year, the big news is that new 5G cells and backhaul are a great opportunity for modernization because it's greenfield deployment," Nolle said.

Read more of Nolle's thoughts on 5G, cloud platforms and edge computing in 2020.

Edge computing will take control, not take over

By the end of the 2010s, most, if not all, of the networking industry knew about edge computing and how it aimed to transform network infrastructure. In 2020, organizations will move beyond the hype and dig into planning for edge computing, according to Chris Drake, principal analyst at GlobalData Technology. Edge computing promises significant benefits for the future of networking technology, and 2020 will likely see the effects of all the industry hype.

These effects include enterprises adding edge computing to their digital transformation plans, although edge computing won't take over operations. Instead, Drake said, edge computing will complement various cloud services -- such as those from AWS and Microsoft Azure -- and control much of traditional data center operations. Edge computing will also benefit IoT adoption in enterprise networks, as well as 5G deployments, to help kick-start various organizations' digital transformation plans.

"In 2020, expect more alliances and more use cases that take advantage of the ability to combine edge technologies and 5G network architectures in ways that enable the development and delivery of new digital applications," Drake said.

Explore more of Drake's thoughts on edge computing in the future of networking technology.

This was last published in January 2020

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