Two tech trends disrupting enterprise networking needs

enterprise networking trends

The only constant in networking is change. And changes in the tech landscape have big implications for your enterprise’s networking strategy. Today, there are two primary drivers of change you need to prepare for: The trend toward digital technologies —or the “digital transformation”— and the imminent transition to 5G mobile connectivity.

What the “digital transformation” means for enterprise networking

These days, it seems like digital transformation (DX) is at the core of every conversation about enterprise networking. DX describes the trend toward digital technologies (i.e., the cloud, IoT, automation, machine learning) to eliminate inefficiencies and realize value through enhanced visibility into every facet of an organization’s operations.

The potential value of DX to your organization is virtually limitless. The Internet of Things (IoT) opens up the opportunity for increased efficiency: Communication between smart devices throughout your organization gives you increased insight into operations. The cloud allows for near-infinite storage of documents and data. And that’s just the beginning.

Every industry is seeing the effects — from healthcare to finance to shipping and beyond. About three-quarters of all companies are developing or implementing a DX strategy in some form. And, frankly, enterprises have to do so to keep up with the competition.

But all this change puts a massive strain on older networks, with the average enterprise using almost 1,500 distinct cloud services. Organizations need to have the right infrastructure in place to handle the bandwidth required in the age of digital transformation. Nearly 50% of CIOs predict their bandwidth requirements will double within the next year in conjunction with the rise of DX.

Dark fiber has given enterprises the bandwidth and network connectivity necessary to make the aspirational goals of digital transformation possible. Gigabit speeds, physical layer security and near-limitless scalability with DWDM technology are just a couple of the draws of a fiber network.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts 75% of all IT spending will stem from the adoption of DX-related technologies. To get the most out of your investment, prepare your network for the shift. For an enterprise seeking a dedicated digital-ready network that can scale as bandwidth needs wax and wane, dark fiber is the most flexible option.

How the 5G transition will open up opportunities for enterprise organizations

In the digital transformation age, enterprises do business on the go. There are remote employees, off-site meetings and transactions, multiple offices and smart devices gathering data in the field. These high-bandwidth, off-site applications require a powerful mobile networking solution to keep up.

Enter 5G mobile connectivity. The fast-approaching transition to 5G promises blistering speeds (as high as 500 megabytes per second), greater availability, lower latency and as much as 1,000 times more bandwidth. 5G will bridge the gap between wireless and wireline connectivity, speed and reliability — empowering enterprises to be able to work from anywhere.

5G networks will rely on higher frequency waves, known as the millimeter wave spectrum, than 4G. While the millimeter wave spectrum of 5G can transmit more data than the radio frequency spectrum of 4G, they can’t travel as far. This will force telecom companies to switch from large cell towers to small cell sites — each with a range of about 250 meters.

These small cells rely on a wireline network —typically copper or fiber— to carry data to and from the wireless device. 90% of internet traffic is supported by the wireline network, even though most traffic terminates on a wireless device, according to a study by Deloitte. The success or failure of 5G will depend in large part on the quality of the wireline network — which is why extending the fiber backbone needs to be an imperative for cities who plan to adopt 5G.

Legacy copper-based backhauls were sufficient to provide 2G and 3G speeds, but struggled to provide 4G speeds. And with the advent of 5G, copper just can’t keep up. Fiber is preferable to copper because, simply put, it has more bandwidth. Fiber can carry about 2.5 million simultaneous calls — copper peaks at about six.

While 5G isn’t available yet, investment in fiber infrastructure is skyrocketing across the country — the International Telecommunications Union expects spend on fiber to exceed 144.2 billion through 2019. This can largely be attributed to replacing old copper mobile backhauls with fiber in preparation for the 5G transition.

The potential 5G use cases for enterprise organizations are endless. Field employees will have instant access to data on the cloud — and any data they input can immediately be viewed back at the office. Organizations can instantly access footage from remote security cameras. Healthcare organizations can access critical data from clinics across the country or across the world at any time.

5G speeds will allow the enterprise organization to connect smart devices, stream 4K video, operate drones or use robotic machinery from anywhere — with little latency and a high level of reliability. The debut of 5G will transform networking for just about every enterprise in practically every industry. And the cities with widely available fiber access will benefit the most from the 5G transition.

Narrowing back in on your organization’s needs, embracing the scalability, flexibility and security of a dark fiber network will only help as you execute your digital transformation strategy. In addition to overcoming familiar enterprise networking challenges —maximizing data security and ensuring 100% network uptime— fiber provides the flexibility to scale your network up as the tech landscape inevitably changes in the future.

To learn more about dark fiber, and what to consider when planning your organization’s IT infrastructure, give our desktop guide to fiber networking a read. We’ll give you advice on if your industry is well-suited to fiber networking, options for financing fiber infrastructure and everything else you need to make an informed decision about your organization’s network. Download the guide today.