The evolving architecture of network connectivity: an opportunity for UK businesses - Neos Networks

The evolving architecture of network connectivity: an opportunity for UK businesses

I discussed during my recent panel at Total Telecom Congress that network architecture is changing, – and the developments we’re seeing, such as the rise of NFV and SDN technologies, will bring some exciting possibilities to the way UK businesses improve their connectivity infrastructure going forward. In the next 24 months I personally expect to see an increased adoption of SDN and NFV, something which will be facilitated by improved regional access networks for UK businesses. With such exciting innovation around the corner, below, I’ve summarised some of the main points from my recent panel discussion.

The networks of the future are arriving

Software Defined Networking (SDN), an architecture which allows network administrators to manage services from a centralised control system, is set to transform networks as we know them. I expect SD-WAN adoption rates to accelerate over the next year, as enterprises wake up to the fact that this sort of network architecture can offer them greater control, agility, and connectivity.

As for Network Function virtualisation (NFV), an architecture which helps businesses separate network functions from hardware, we’re not quite there yet. It’s useful for tasks like moving the encryption of firewalls from hardware to virtual servers, and will certainly make networks more agile and efficient, – but I don’t expect this to really hit the mainstream for at least 18 months or so once SD-WAN infrastructure has been deployed.

Self-optimising networks are becoming a reality

The idea of self-optimising networks has been around for a while, but have always required physical intervention to actually increase capacity where it’s needed. Fortunately, with the advent of SD-WAN and A.I., technologies are being developed that have the capability to re-route traffic over multiple different network resources.

Which means (with the right infrastructure, tools and rules) self-optimising networks are becoming a reality, and will soon be widely available as an architecture that can enhance UK business connectivity. Neos Networks is approaching this task on a layer-by-layer basis, to make sure we can truly deliver the sort of infrastructure needed to support self-optimising networks.

Regional and access networks are set to improve significantly

In terms of the future of network architecture, there’s two things I discussed on the panel that we’re really excited by. The first is the increasing opportunity for higher quality regional services. If we go back 20 years to when the trans-continental networks were heavily invested in, this kickstarted an international telecoms infrastructure that just hasn’t stopped accelerating. There’s been huge consistent growth in bandwidth and investment in cables – consider the $300million trans-Pacific cable route which began construction in 2014, the Amazon cable and trans-Atlantic cables such as the Google Dunant cable and HAVFRUE cable, neither of which directly land in the UK, all largely sponsored by the Content Networks that power the Internet today.

But regional and access networks have been left woefully behind, with very few providers being prepared to lay fibre to these regional end locations – meaning cost on the last mile was still high. Fortunately, that’s set to change, which is great news for enterprises across the country who’ve been denied super-fast access for so long. Between this, and companies like Neos Networks providing aggregation capabilities, and the advancement of the underlying networks that will support 5G and satellite, businesses across the UK will soon look to enjoy a ubiquity of high bandwidth services.

Competition is driving better customer service

The second exciting development I discussed is that it’s going to be increasingly important to use network architecture to drive better customer service. As a result of having so much choice across the products and services we use, we all now have incredibly high expectations of customer service. We want everything to arrive immediately and be packaged in an easily digestible way. And, understandably, we want to be able to see that we’re actually getting the service we were promised.

As telcos, we now have to rise to this challenge – whether that’s through automation, software that can turn services up and down very quickly, or through offering analytics that prove we’ve provided the service we claimed we would.

The future of network architecture

Ultimately, it’s a fast-moving but exciting time for telcos. I expect to see significant growth in network architecture and network capabilities over the next two years, and I look forward to watching these developments play out. The key opportunity is for telcos to keep driving change and for businesses to be prepared to make the most of these new technologies. Because the possibilities opened up by faster, more agile network infrastructure can be significant – and organisations across the country could benefit as a result.

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