An experienced senior executive with a strong history of leading development and deploying wireless networks, Bob Friday, Chief Technology Officer of Juniper’s AI-driven Enterprise and co-founder of Mist Systems, a Juniper Networks (News - Alert) company, holds 15 patents under his name.
At a NetEvents global virtual conference last week, Friday talked about the future of networking in a COVID- 19 world, as he participated with other industry leaders to discuss technology in the context of the global pandemic.
The panel, which included, John Apostolopoulos, VP & CTO for Enterprise Networking Business, Cisco; Mansour Karam, President & Founder, Apstra; and Kevin Deierling (News - Alert), SVP Marketing, Networking, NVIDIA along with Friday exchanged views and explored the hottest technologies and trends which included new developments in wireless technology for Enterprise and Edge, advances being made in Cloud by optimizing the application experience, the latest developments on Intelligent Network Automation through Intent-Based Networking (IBN) enabling increased automation and analysis across all elements of the network, and more.
“Business leaders are and looking to cloud architectures and AI to help them deal with an increasingly complex network,” Friday said. “They are starting to understand that cloud is fundamentally a better way to develop and maintain software, and they're starting to see the value of moving to a modern cloud SaaS (News - Alert) stack that provides a more reliable software experience, faster innovation and an API architecture to support their automation plans. And a foundation on which to build the real time data pipelines to realize the value of AI/ML in operating their networks.
In my experience, IT leaders don’t trust a new employee or a new virtual AI assistant to touch their network. Ultimately the virtual AI assistant has to earn their confidence such as a new employee would, so there have to be mechanisms for feedback into the AI assistance for them to train it and for the virtual AI assistance to gain IT administrators’ trust. Regarding where we are in the AI marketing hype cycle, in Gartner (News - Alert) language we are passing the peak of inflated expectations and enterprises are starting to see the value of AIOps in helping them trouble shoot problems, reduce support tickets and improve end user experiences.
The panellists agreed that given so many changes based on the Work from Home (WFH) jump shift, more AI and automation can help with operational efficiency and security. “I think we're in the early days of AI; cloud is a little bit farther along,” Friday said. “Additionally, we're really moving to more of a conversational interface. People are going to start getting data out of their networks in a much more conversational manner going forward vs. searching dashboards.
“Right now, I'm working in the industry in a couple of different groups around data. We start to try to automate the end to end-user experience because we're not really managing boxes anymore, we're trying to solve some sort of an application or user experience problem,” Friday continued. “What we really need is to start gathering data from different distributed sources. We're starting to see the virtualization of data in place. Figure out what question you're trying to answer, and then pull the data you need, rather than trying to engineer a massive data lake which may end up being more complex than necessary, and far more expensive.”
When asked about his thoughts on 5G, Friday said, “The distinction between 5G and WiFi (News - Alert) is getting very blurry if you look at the physical layer, the differences are getting smaller and backend of both cellular and Wi-Fi networks are moving to an IP architecture. Ultimately people want their mobile devices to do the best possible job in keeping them connected to the internet.
Friday noted that Passpoint and WBA’s Open Roaming efforts are helping the seamless roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi.
Friday says as the world of business becomes more complicated due to the global health crisis, businesses are putting more critical business services on their wireless networks and looking to tools like AIOps to give them better end to end visibility into the user experience.
Juhi Fadia is an engineer, analyst, researcher and writer covering advanced and emerging technologies.
Edited by Maurice Nagle