Network technology is constantly changing and, as a result, changing the way people live and do business. Consider cellphones: As news of fifth-generation (5G) cellular networks spreads, U.S. wireless technology companies are gearing up to spend more than $275 billion to respond to this communications innovation. Network technology is a key driver of economic growth and development, and CTIA (formerly the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) predicts $500 billion in economic growth as a result of network changes.
How does the network technology revolution affect the future job market? Businesses and organizations increasingly rely on network technology, and network engineers play a crucial role in maintaining, updating, and monitoring network activity. Not only that, but network engineers are responsible for keeping systems running, down to the individual servers, routers, computers, and cables. As business and technology change, future network engineers must respond to changing network trends. Network engineers who understand the scope of these changes can keep their employers competitive in an evolving world.
The Future of Network Engineering Technology
No one can know for sure what network technology will look like decades from now. The following trends, however, should be on every future network engineer’s radar:
- Predictive analytics
- Cloud networking
- Network automation
Predictive Analytics and Future Network Security
Predictive analytics is the use of historical data to determine the likelihood of future outcomes. For example, banks will often identify fraudulent activity based on anomalies in purchasing patterns. Moreover, ratings like credit scores have been predictive indicators of people’s likelihood of paying their bills on time.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), among other tools, will enable future network engineers to address potential network performance issues by applying predictive analytics. Companies like IBM, SAS, KNIME, and RapidMiner have eagerly adopted predictive analytics tools to optimize network efficiency. As network technology continues to improve, information technology (IT) professionals will see prediction models that closely match real outcomes, making predictive analytics an invaluable tool.
Network security can be greatly improved using predictive analytics. Traditionally, network security professionals have relied on “signatures”: digital fingerprints that hackers leave when they attempt to compromise data. Now, however, signatures have become outdated, and network security can be monitored in real time across multiple networks using predictive analytics. Future network security relies on complex solutions to increasingly complex problems.
Hybrid cloud computing, a combination of on-site IT infrastructure and public cloud architecture, is currently attracting the attention of businesses. The main reason is that hybrid cloud’s flexibility helps clients tailor technology to their needs. Traditionally, businesses sought to maintain their private data on-site to ensure security. However, as cloud networking technology has increased, companies are confidently offloading into hybrid cloud computing systems. This allows them to use various public cloud resources, such as blockchain, analytics, and machine learning. Engineers use these tools more and more frequently today in design, planning, management, and maintenance and support tasks. IBM estimates the hybrid cloud sector to be worth $1 trillion.
Network automation promises to replace many of the menial tasks network engineers accomplish manually. By automating certain repeatable tasks, IT professionals will be able to commit more time and energy to long-term projects and increase their operational efficiency. Actions such as implementing software updates, upgrading security, determining the best computing path via reroutes, and performing root cause analytics can now all become automated. Moreover, the future integration of machine learning toward these “smart networks” can further optimize efficiency and reshape the roles of network engineers.