The Future of Networking: The Autonomous Network


…being able to save lives, keep loved ones safe, better prepare students for their futures, get packages to where they need to be quicker, help customers find what they need faster, and more.

With today’s technology, all of this is possible and more.

How can we ensure the technology is optimized to do this? With a fundamental layer of digital transformation, the autonomous network. According to ZK Research, “An autonomous network is the next evolutionary step in networking and advances many of the capabilities created by software-defined networks. It’s important to understand that an autonomous network goes well beyond basic automation capabilities and leads to a network that is self-operating.”

ZK Research explains the differences between a network that is fully autonomous and one that merely contains automated capabilities by looking at the automotive industry:

Cars have had automation capabilities such as parallel-park assist, lane change alert, and cruise control for several years, but the operator of the vehicle makes the decision as to how fast to drive or whether it can park in a certain spot.

With a completely autonomous vehicle, the driver issues a command such as “drive me to the airport,” and the car will complete this task following the rules and policies. The car will arrive at the airport knowing whether a certain lot is for daily use or long term and will make a decision based on that policy. A self-driving car understands all the rules, speed limits, and congestion points, and it completes the tasks with these in mind.

Similarly, an autonomous network can be thought of as a self-driving network that runs itself based on the intent determined by business policy. The autonomous network is a powerful, transformational paradigm to ensure that the operation of the network is aligned with the goals of the business. This changes the role of the network from a tactical resource that often gets in the way to a strategic resource that drives innovation.

Tell Me More About Autonomous Networking

Here are some of the capabilities autonomous networking enables:

  • Connecting doctors with patients arriving on a life flight before they’re even on the helipad
  • Finding missing persons with IP cameras on the subway
  • Selling consumers what they want even if it’s not in your store
  • Powering next-level robotics
  • Using facial recognition for door locks at schools, research facilities, and prisons
  • Getting a heart transplant where it needs to be on time for surgery
  • Sending the part to fix the air delivery system for the space station to NASA when it's needed

All of these experiences require connecting people to technology in order to improve human experiences – and those connections are only possible if we can scale our networks to meet the demands of these new experiences.

Picture this: What if the network wasn’t just something you managed, but rather an entity capable of learning, adapting, and securing all on its own?

This wouldn’t just be machine learning and artificial intelligence – this would be freedom.

  • Freedom to set your intent, and watch the network run autonomously while you explore new ideas and experiences.
  • Freedom to connect with your patients, students, customers, citizens, and clients in new and exciting ways.
  • Freedom to leverage your network, apps, and devices to do what you came here to do – elevate the human experience.

This is the beauty of AI. If we can build a network that is self-learning, self-healing, self-securing, and self-optimizing, it gives us freedom and delivers experiences.

What Could You Do with More Freedom?

Envision how you could take advantage of a few extra hours every day…

  • Would you spend it developing a new strategy?
  • Would you spend it with colleagues or friends or family?
  • What if you could spend more time on something you love instead of managing the network?

“Advanced networking is the unsung hero of our digital future, offering a continuum of connectivity that can drive the development of new products and services, transform inefficient operating models, and make digital transformation possible.” - Deloitte

To fully realize digitization, you require an agile, adaptive, and secure network, with a software-driven approach, and your team’s human intelligence underpinning the entire business. You need one that

  • Addresses the onslaught of IoT and mobile devices with context-based policies
  • Uses automation to initiate remediation
  • Automates Wi-Fi and frees up IT administrators’ time
  • Secures data and information using ML and AI
  • Simplifies network operations using verbal commands
  • Utilizes analytics to make decisions
  • Prevents catastrophic “headline-making” security attacks

Deploying the Right Combination of Elements

Extreme brings you this vision with the autonomous network. Connecting things is what we do. People, applications, experiences, all depend on their ability to connect to the network.

From telemedicine in healthcare to electronic shelf labeling in retail to digital learning in schools, we transform the network from a binary utility into a powerful, intelligent engine that automatically and intelligently connects people to technology. Your IT team becomes free to reimagine the business and create meaningful outcomes that improve the human experience like never before.

That’s why we just announced our investment of 95% of our research and development dollars into software and AI this year to expand the automation capabilities across our Smart OmniEdge, Automated Campus, and Agile Data Center solutions, to create a secure, self-healing, and self-driving network—from the enterprise edge to the cloud—with the following attributes:

  • Cross-domain and closed-loop automation– so end users can optimize network performance from the end device to the application server.
  • Software-driven infrastructure, augmented with machine learning and AI– so customers can easily respond to bandwidth demands and user behavior, ensuring end users get the experience they need when they need it.
  • Insights and analytics – so end users can track the behavior of applications, users and IoT devices in real-time; identify anomalous behavior, and automatically resolve issues without human intervention.
  • Open and standards-based ecosystem – so end users can build the exact architecture and applications they require to fulfill the specialized demands of their enterprise.

Combined with our collaborative, customer-driven approach, Extreme brings IT practitioners in every industry the freedom to challenge the status quo, to connect with patients, students, customers, and clients in new exciting ways. Ultimately, the freedom to leverage their network, apps, and devices to do what they came here to do – elevate the human experience.

About the Author
Lisa Yeaton Headshot
Lisa Yeaton
Senior Manager, Corporate Marketing

Lisa Yeaton is a Senior Manager, Corporate Marketing at Extreme Networks. In her role, Lisa oversees all of Extreme's corporate social media accounts and creates corporate communications content.

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