Bell Labs to help network 2020

Cloud, mobile and video are increasing the pressure on global communication networks. There is no sign that this pressure will ease over the next five years. As well as these traffic types there will inevitably be a surge in traffic from Internet of Things which is predicted to substantially exceed current traffic levels. To improve network performance technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) are also appearing although many organisations struggle to understand how they will implement them.

Service providers and enterprises need to understand how to overcome the above issues and master the right technologies. To help both groups Bell Labs has launched a new consulting division. According to the press release announcing this new division, Bell Labs has highlighted four predictions around network traffic challenges:

Bell Labs has also called out new traffic challenges that go beyond the Internet of Things:

According to Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs: “….this transformation from a physical to a complete digital delivery infrastructure for the future can be a minefield to navigate, in terms of understanding the right economic models, the key technologies, how they work together to create new solution capabilities, and the relative priority they should have in order to optimize the TCO and drive growth and profitability. Our intent is to provide the decision framework, and the set of key innovations and sequencing of adoption that will help ensure they not only survive but prosper well into in the future.”

What will be interesting is how this changes the deployment model for enterprise customers. Many have gone with cloud providers who have promoted carrier neutral facilities as a way of alleviating traffic problems. However some have started to buy into private networks delivered by their cloud provider with both Microsoft (ExpressRoute) and IBM (DirectLink) just two examples of the services on offer.

At the same time the major cloud vendors such as Dimension Data, IBM, NTT, Huawei, HP, Oracle, Cisco have all been espousing their own view on SDN and NFV. This has led to some confusion between enterprise customers as to how mature the technologies are and how they implement them. For this new Bell Labs consulting team, there appears to be a big opportunity here.

What is missing from this announcement is any mention of security. One of the big security focus areas over the last year has been security intelligence. A major part of this is the need to increase the monitoring of the network in order to detect patterns that will indicate where cyber attacks are in progress. This means that it is not enough to improve bandwidth to get greater throughput for network traffic, there has to be a coordination with the security teams.

Bell Labs can also expect a lot of competition in this space from the big players such as HP, Huawei, IBM and NTT which will put pressure on Bell Labs to make announcements around customer wins if they are to be a leading player with this new consulting team.