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SD-WAN Series - Part 2: Artificial Intelligence
Published: 21 March 2017
In my previous blog, I looked at the potential of SD-WAN in 2017. In my view, one of its key benefits is that it complements the progression of artificial intelligence (AI), which has been ranked as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017 by Gartner.
So, why so much hype for a development that was first touted as the next big thing, decades ago? Well, certainly because the combination of SD-WAN and AI can help to provide a better way to run networks. AT&T, for example, is looking at this to aid network security, but the question on its approach still remains. The combination of SD-WAN and AI feeds on enormous amounts of data and this will allow the systems to make extensive and in-depth decisions. Ultimately, this means that network problems are predicted or picked-up before they can impact any customer.
Gartner also reported that in 3-5 years, they believe 50% of all analytics will be AI-powered, rendering it hugely important moving forward. AI can be applied in a multitude of ways, meaning that data can be gathered for more applications, quicker and more accurately. This is, therefore, a highly exciting time for technology companies, software developers and business leaders, whereas customers will potentially benefit from such advancements.
Challenges for any business in the modern world often revolve around the end goal of satisfying the customer. Excellence in customer service continues to be of the highest importance. AI allows companies using cloud technology to provide higher quality solutions. For example, Google, IBM and Amazon have all committed to AI. While introducing new features are important, AI needs to be successfully integrated or the data needed will clog up systems, further delaying analysis. Companies are constantly seeking a solution to analyse data quickly - being able to analyse data in motion is crucial in order to address a problem directly.
Integrating SD-WAN with AI allows data to be analysed rapidly, function swiftly and to full effect without hindering cloud-connected networks. This rapid analysis approach will then, in turn, help to counteract any customer dissatisfaction.
Making the transition
Although an exciting solution, some believe that a transition from IPVPN MPLS to SD-WAN carries complexities, and a proof of concept is highly recommended. In real terms, SD-WAN is an enhancement in comparison to any other solution and can actually be integrated with IP MPLS VPN services, rendering any transition hassle free. Businesses can benefit from both these solutions. Once implemented, SD-WAN will work holistically with AI to identify any errors in data or anomalies in quick time, addressing challenges in a timely manner.
AT&T and Level 3 Communications have recently both made the switch over to software-defined networking and machine learning/artificial intelligence. AT&T works by collecting centralised data for analysis, making it easier for anomalies or errors to be identified. They use string analytics, advanced algorithms and machine learning, which provides a state-of-the-art solution that has been enhanced by the switch.
Level 3 stated that it has “major investment going into artificial intelligence and machine learning”. The company’s “See, Know and Act” tactics provide a clear path from which to collect data, analyse it and then take action. They are stealing a march on the market since the implementation of this new software, which other companies would be wise to follow.
So, keep an eye out for SD-WAN and AI. If you’re looking for something to improve analytics and customer service, this could be the combination that works for you. It will be very interesting to see how early adopters, like AT&T and Level 3 Communications, evolve over the next few months.
Richard Thomas, Highlight Founder & CEO
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