The future of network technology is playing out right now

In the 2011 novel Loan Player One, author Ernest Cline offers his take on the future of networking technology: a dystopian United States in 2044, where everyone is connected to a virtual world called Oasis.

The protagonist, Wade Watts, is a network-savvy teenager who discusses data center stacks, servers, bandwidth and security with the air of a shrunken IT pro as he keeps a step ahead of the forces seeking to stop it (spoiler alert). The book also offers a nostalgia for hardcore 80s pop culture, for anyone who enjoys John Hughes movies and new wave music.

In this story, the only way to escape the dreary real world is to have a deep understanding of the networked virtual world. Today’s infrastructure isn’t up to the point of connecting people – at least not yet. But the future of networking technology is already here, and like Watts, IT leaders need to understand how all of these evolving concepts will work together.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), for its part, is an intriguing glimpse into the future of networking technology. Although it remains a small segment of the overall market, HCI brings together compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources into a single integrated platform. Storage management has fueled much of the HCI boom, but today IT managers are examining how it fits into their overall cloud strategies.

Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN), meanwhile, continues to gain traction as businesses examine new tools to connect their remote offices. But as WAN traffic increases, so does the threat, and IT managers need to determine the role SD-WAN security tools will play in helping them protect their WANs. New features like microsegmentation show promise, but there is still work to be done, analysts say.

Finally, businesses may soon have the option of telling the network to fix itself through the use of an Intention-Based Network (IBN). Using automation and policies, IBN could redefine the way applications and services are delivered over networks, even if this ushers in scalable technologies.

It remains to be seen how all of these developments combine to create the future of network technology. But it’s definitely fun to read.

In the meantime, network managers continue to find the best ways to manage their growing networks and ensure that business users have the bandwidth and tools they need to do their jobs. Read an IT professional’s story of how their business improved communications and bandwidth to have the best possible network uptime.


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