Previously we wrote about Competitive advantage – the evolving role of the IT network based on Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report.

IT networks that are fast, reliable and secure are no longer enough – they have to “self drive” to ensure each organisation can achieve competitive advantage.

The previous piece discussed some global business trends impacting on the network – in this piece we’ll look at some of the key technology trends shaping the future state of networks, and how we’re seeing these impact businesses here in the Australian marketplace.

Applications are evolving

Applications and data are no longer necessarily residing on-premise.  They are increasingly becoming modularized and distributed as microservices from a growing number of SaaS providers.  In fact, the Uptime Institute predicts that by 2021, half of all workloads will be run outside the enterprise data centre.

Apps are being built continuously and rapidly, and are migrating from physical to virtual to containers to serverless.  As apps continue to evolve towards serverless architecture, businesses are having to reexamine the role and design of their network infrastructure in meeting future requirements.

Network impact

Analysts suggest that through the rise of apps and microservices, we should consider the future network to be more like a set of interconnected “nerve clusters” which exist wherever the data is.  This could be anywhere along the edge-cloud continuum, meaning new networks will need to be able to securely connect within and between each of these clusters, while dynamically extending application policies to wherever each app is hosted.


Cisco is predicting that machine-to-machine (M2M) devices will account for 51% of all networked devices by 2022.  As the use of IoT devices and apps continues to explode, so too does the accompanying data, at an incredible scale.

Network impact

Network engineers are having to find ways to connect efficiently and securely with an increasingly diverse range of IoT devices.  What’s more, these connections are having to occur at increasing scale.

We’re currently seeing this play out across a number of large scale customer migrations.  By automating network processes, monitoring and management however, we’re able to achieve both efficiency and security at scale.


As the power of AI continues to be incorporated and built into applications for both business and the consumer, we’re witnessing the emergence of a whole new world of connected, intelligent and automated devices.  Recent research has suggested that AI-based software revenue is expected to climb from $10.1 billion in 2018 to $126.0 billion by 2025 as businesses hasten to unleash the power of AI in delivering them competitive advantage.

We’re already witnessing firsthand the breadth of AI’s impact on the future network through our ongoing research into AI-based cyber-attack detection and response, conducted jointly with the University of Queensland.

Network impact

In order for businesses to unlock the true potential of AI, the obvious and immediate impact on the network is the requirement for greater computational processing power and decision making closer to the edge.  Ultimately, whether AI processing occurs in the cloud or on premise, will differ by case, depending on performance, capacity, privacy, and cost considerations.


The expectation of immediate and high performance connectivity anywhere, anytime and on any device, continues for business mobile users – it’s the price of entry for today’s business mobile network delivery.

What is shifting however, is the volume of business mobile traffic across networks, which has led Cisco to predict the 6-fold growth of global business mobile data traffic between 2017 and 2022 – an annual growth rate of 42%!

Network impact

Increasing access of cloud based applications whilst off the corporate network is creating a lack of visibility and control for network administrators.


It’s no news that cybersecurity threats are becoming more frequent and sophisticated.  As workloads move off-premise, we’re faced with the danger that IT will lose visibility and control.

Network impact

Network and security operations need to share data and tools and integrate workflows.  As the network extends further into the cloud, so too does IT need to extend their protection of applications and data, even when no longer directly under their control.

Immersive experiences

Increasingly, businesses are creating competitive advantage through the use of video and more immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences for improved collaboration, training, productivity and remote working opportunities.

While having an immense positive impact on user and customer experience for the organization, there is significantly greater demand placed on the network.  Indeed, it’s expected that by 2022, Internet video will represent 82% of all business Internet traffic.

Network impact

In order to deliver truly immersive experiences across the business, networks require greater end-to-end bandwidth and lower latency, managed through dynamic performance controls.

What next

  1. Download the full research report
  2. Register to receive a free network assessment to determine whether your network is future-ready and capable of delivering you a sustained competitive advantage

Next in this series

The next installment in this series will outline how to assess your network’s current state of digital readiness – and based on this develop a plan for ongoing improvement.