The Future Network of Networks

Empowering Customers with
High Performance Networks

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The concept of network effects states that the value of networks grows exponentially with the number of nodes connected to it. Given the emergence of the many different types of networks for voice, video, sensors, machines, mobile radios and more, our society is at the cusp of a “perfect storm” of network connectivity.  Along with the value we get from connectivity, however, so too grows the complexity of managing multiple, parallel networks, and the reliance of people and orga­nizations on these networks functioning properly.

Addressing this complexity seriously does not mean ripping out all current installed networking systems in one fell swoop. The pillars of present-day networks will not crum­ble overnight, nor has the great existing investment in them suddenly lost all value. There are reasonable, fiscally sane paths for migrating to the future. But migrate we must.

Fortunately, a new more unified approach to wireless communications is within sight: “Hybrid Networks.”  Hybrid networks act as a bridge to link existing networks and optimize the way data moves between and among systems, regardless of connectivity, device or network.  In this Technology Insight, we present a summary of how Hybrid Networks and 5G technology could become the “network of networks.”

The tools we are working with today to put sensors on networks were not designed to handle the diversity of devices becoming networked, the scope of new capabilities, the need to carefully manage power requirements, and the massive volume of data-points generated from device interactions. These challenges are diluting the ability of technical organizations to efficiently and effectively manage systems development.

A FEW PLAYERS ARE FLIRTING with HYBRID NETWORKS

The imminent arrival of 5G has network infrastructure and operators scrambling to understand what’s in it for them. Capabilities such as network slicing and network determinism are opening up new doors for machine learning and analytics players to optimize network performance for diverse applications.  However, only a very short list of players are addressing the need to fully manage multiple parallel installed networks for both OEMs and end customers as well as the diverse stakeholders that also need to interact in complex domains such as cities, transportation systems and more.  

Wireless carriers have played it safe, defaulting to their consumer and enterprise subscription models. OEMs serving customers in industrial and mission critical arenas are testing different communications technologies such as mesh networks that do not serve the full range of applications that need to be addressed. 

Networking and communications equipment and infrastructure players like Nokia and Ericsson, on the other hand, are well positioned to control and manage industrial, commercial, private and public networks. By partnering with carriers and MVNOs, they could potentially manage multiple networks with their existing infrastructure and then develop the tools required to migrate to fully software-defined network platforms.

Hybrid networks have the potential to enable significant new value to customers, allowing them to optimize the way their installed networks and distributed assets transmit and receive data. Because these environments are still made up of diverse fragmented networks with no real migration story in sight, the market needs a new generation of players who are thinking about the scale, scope and performance this new generation of wireless technology really deserves. 

Glen Allmendinger, President

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