Top Networking Technologies

1. Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)

For years, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have been the standard choices for enterprise connectivity, providing reliable and secure communication between remote locations. However, these solutions face inherent limitations in today’s digital environment.

MPLS requires substantial investments in hardware and dedicated connections, making it costly and time-consuming to scale. Its static nature poses challenges in adapting to dynamic traffic patterns and unpredictable bandwidth demands. On the other hand, VPNs rely on encrypted tunnels over public networks to provide secure remote access. While VPNs are cost-effective, they often experience performance degradation with latency-sensitive applications or when routing traffic over long distances. Managing and configuring VPNs across multiple sites can also be complex and cumbersome

Enter Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), a disruptive force reshaping the networking landscape. SD-WAN offers a flexible and software-driven approach to wide-area networking by connecting local area networks (LANs) across large distances using controlling software that is compatible with various networking hardware. By leveraging off-the-shelf hardware and separating the control plane from the data plane, SD-WAN becomes a more cost-effective, flexible, and scalable alternative to traditional WAN architectures. The soaring popularity of SD-WAN makes it one of the top networking technologies in 2024.

The adoption of SD-WAN has surged due to factors like the 2020 pandemic-induced work-from-home initiatives and the need for cost-effective network management and automation. Market trends indicate that the SD-WAN industry is projected to grow by over 30% between 2023 and 2030. The increasing popularity of cloud services has contributed to this growth, with SD-WAN benefiting from improved cloud storage and connectivity affordability. SD-WAN’s superior cloud connectivity compared to MPLS positions it favorably to capitalize on this trend.

2. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E

Wi-Fi 6 and 6E continue to dominate as leading network technologies, revolutionizing wireless connectivity in 2024. With a focus on meeting the demands of modern digital environments, Wi-Fi 6 delivers substantial advancements in speed, capacity, and overall performance.

The introduction of Multi-User Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) technology in Wi-Fi 5 allowed for parallel support of multiple users, directing data streams to specific devices through beam forming. This combination propelled the overall performance of Wi-Fi networks. The Wi-Fi 6 standard, introduced in 2019, represents the current evolution in the Wi-Fi standard.

Wi-Fi 6 tackles performance challenges stemming from numerous Wi-Fi devices on a single network, particularly in dense environments like university campuses, event centers, and urban apartment complexes. Wi-Fi 6 offers significant speed improvements, and introduces uplink (UL MU-MIMO) capabilities, enabling multiple users to perform uploads simultaneously, unlike Wi-Fi 5, which supports only down-link connections.

The global market for Wi-Fi 6 and 6E chipsets experienced substantial growth, with a market size of USD 22.55 billion in 2022. It is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9% from 2023 to 2030. The demand for Wi-Fi 6 and 6E devices is driven by the expansion of telecom services, increasing smartphone penetration, and the need for enhanced network performance, low latency, and high bandwidth communications across various industries.

The continued popularity and adoption of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E devices are fueled by their ability to meet the growing requirements for advanced network connectivity, superior performance, and seamless user experiences in today’s digital landscape. As data traffic continues to escalate, these technologies are poised to play a crucial role in providing enhanced network capabilities across a wide range of industries.

3. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, organizations are seeking networking technologies that provide secure, scalable, and agile connectivity. Enter SASE, a transformative approach that combines networking and security into a unified cloud-based solution. SASE has established itself as one of the leading networking technologies of 2024, addressing the challenges posed by digital transformation and remote work.

SASE represents a paradigm shift in networking architecture. It consolidates networking and security functions into a single cloud-delivered service, eliminating the need for multiple-point solutions and providing a holistic approach to connectivity and protection. SASE encompasses four core security components: Secure Web Gateways (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), and FireWall-as-a-Service (FWaaS).

In a conventional network model, data and applications are typically housed in a central data center. To access these resources, users, branch offices, and applications establish connections to the data center through localized private networks or secondary networks. These secondary networks often rely on secure leased lines or VPNs to connect to the primary network. However, this traditional model struggles to cope with the complexities introduced by cloud-based services such as SaaS and the growing prevalence of distributed workforces. As more applications and data migrate to the cloud, it becomes impractical to route all traffic through a centralized data center. This need to adapt to the changing landscape has fueled the surging popularity of SASE.

The global SASE market experienced a 33% growth in size in 2022 and is projected to expand from USD 1.9 billion in 2023 to USD 5.9 billion by 2028, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.0%. Several factors are currently driving this growth. The rise of remote work and the need for digital transformation have created a demand for secure access to resources from anywhere. As these driving factors persist, the popularity and adoption of SASE are expected to continue on an upward trajectory. SASE is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of secure and flexible connectivity for enterprises worldwide.

4. Multi-Cloud Networking (MCN)

MCN encompasses a range of tools and solutions designed to enable networking and connectivity across multiple cloud environments. It offers a unified infrastructure for organizations to seamlessly manage and control their network resources, applications, and data across different cloud service providers (CSPs). In the current multi-cloud landscape, traditional network architecture and operations methods are unsustainable. Cloud service providers have struggled to effectively integrate multiple clouds, prioritizing their individual offerings over broader enterprise needs. MCN addresses these limitations and enables seamless integration across multiple clouds.

MCN operates by providing a centralized management layer that abstracts the underlying networking infrastructure of each cloud provider, creating a virtualized networking layer that can be managed centrally. This virtualized layer allows organizations to define and control virtual networks, subnets, IP addressing, and routing policies across multiple clouds, regardless of their individual configurations. MCN offers a unified management interface that serves as a single point of control for configuring and monitoring the multi-cloud network.

As per a Bloomberg report, the global market size of MCN is expected to reach $19.9 billion by 2031, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.3%. Cloud automation is anticipated to play a substantial role and capture a significant portion of the market share in the multi-cloud management sector throughout the forecast period. As technology advances, MCN will continue to evolve, driving innovation and empowering organizations to fully leverage the potential of multi-cloud strategies.

5. 5G Wireless Technology

With the introduction of 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology, we have witnessed a groundbreaking advancement that has revolutionized the way we connect, interact, and experience the world. Since its initial deployment, 5G has swiftly established itself as the leading network technology, shaping industries, transforming economies, and fueling innovation.

One of the primary factors driving the rapid adoption of 5G is its unparalleled speed and capacity. With speeds up to 100 times faster than its predecessor, 5G networks enable near-instantaneous downloads, ultra-high-definition video streaming, and seamless real-time communication. This blazing-fast speed, combined with low latency, ensures a smooth and responsive user experience, enhancing various applications, including video conferencing, gaming, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). Additionally, 5G’s increased capacity allows for a massive number of connected devices within a small area, paving the way for the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city initiatives.

5G’s wide adoption can also be attributed to its ability to empower and accelerate the development of emerging technologies. With its ultra-low latency and high bandwidth, 5G is the catalyst behind groundbreaking innovations such as autonomous vehicles, remote robotic surgeries, and smart factories. These applications require lightning-fast data transfer and real-time communication, which are made possible by 5G networks. As businesses and industries recognize the immense potential unlocked by these technologies, they are increasingly embracing 5G as a necessary infrastructure for future growth and competitiveness.

Indeed, 5G has established itself as the leading wireless network technology in 2024 and beyond due to its unparalleled speed, capacity, and transformative potential. The global 5G services market size was valued at USD 60.61 billion in 2022. It is projected to witness a remarkable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59.4% from 2023 to 2030. As 5G continues to mature, its widespread adoption and popularity will contribute to economic growth, industry transformation, and a connected future that surpasses our current expectations.

6. Intent-Based Networking (IBN)

One of the most groundbreaking advancements in recent years is the emergence of Intent-Based Networking (IBN). IBN is a network technology that uses automation and artificial intelligence to simplify and streamline network management. By allowing administrators to define desired outcomes or “intent” for the network, IBN automatically translates and implements those intentions across the network infrastructure, optimizing performance, security, and scalability. It replaces manual configuration with automated processes based on real-time analytics and monitoring, ensuring that the network operates according to the defined intent, improving efficiency, and reducing errors.

With its ability to automate and simplify network management, IBN has quickly risen to become one of the emerging network technologies today, driving innovation and transforming industries. One of the key drivers behind the rapid adoption of intent-based networking is its ability to automate and simplify network management. Traditional networks often require complex configurations and manual interventions, leading to inefficiencies and potential errors. IBN leverages artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation to streamline network operations, reducing human errors and enabling proactive management.

Other factors driving the widespread adoption of IBN include automation capabilities, enhanced visibility and control, scalability, optimized user experience, and industry-specific use cases. According to Digital Journal, “The global Intent-Based Networking market size was valued at USD 786.33 million in 2022 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 31.29% during the forecast period, reaching USD 4026.97 million by 2028.” By simplifying network management, improving security, and enabling scalability, IBN revolutionizes the way organizations design, deploy, and manage their networks.

7. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)

In a traditional network environment, various network functions, such as firewalls, routers, load balancers, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), and more, are implemented using specialized hardware appliances. Each of these hardware appliances serves a specific purpose and is frequently expensive to purchase, deploy, and maintain. As networks grow, managing and scaling these dedicated hardware devices become complex and cost-intensive. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) addresses these challenges using virtualization technology.

NFV replaces network appliance hardware with virtual machines. The virtual machines use a hypervisor or software-defined networking controller to run networking software and processes such as routing and load balancing. NFV aims to decouple network functions from the underlying hardware and run them as virtualized software instances on general-purpose servers or in the cloud.

According to MarketWatch, “As of 2023, the global Network Function Virtualization (NFV) market was estimated at USD 24492.0 million, and it’s anticipated to reach USD 85603.15 million in 2028, with a CAGR of 23.19% during the forecast years.”

8. Digital Twins

A digital twin serves as a virtually identical representation of a physical product, system, or process, designed to facilitate practical purposes such as simulation, testing, monitoring, and maintenance. It acts as the digital counterpart of the physical entity throughout its lifecycle, supporting Product Lifecycle Management.

By creating a digital replica of machines, infrastructure, or entire systems, digital twins enable real-time monitoring, analysis, and predictive capabilities. This integration of data analytics empowers organizations to simulate different scenarios, identify inefficiencies, predict maintenance needs, and optimize performance. Digital twins have emerged as a leading network technology, leveraging simulation, data analytics, and real-time monitoring.

According to Fortune Business Insights, “The global digital twin market size was valued at USD 8.60 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 11.51 billion in 2023 to USD 137.67 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 42.6%. With their potential to revolutionize network technology and shape various industries, digital twins are paving the way for a connected and data-driven future.

9. Network Automation and AIOps

In the rapidly advancing digital landscape, network automation, and AI for IT Operations (AIOps) have emerged as leading technologies that are revolutionizing network management. These technologies empower organizations to automate repetitive tasks, improve operational efficiency, and harness the power of AI for enhanced network performance and security.

One of the key drivers behind the rapid adoption of network automation and AIOps is their ability to improve operational efficiency and scalability. Network automation and AIOps enable proactive network management by leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms. These technologies continuously monitor network performance, analyze data in real-time, and identify patterns and anomalies that could signify potential issues or security threats.

As networks become increasingly complex and dynamic, network automation and AIOps provide the tools and capabilities needed to manage, secure, and optimize network infrastructures. Organizations are implementing network automation and adopting AIOps platforms through a combination of vendor-specific tools, open-source frameworks, and custom-built solutions. With their wide adoption and growing popularity in 2024, these technologies are paving the way for more efficient, intelligent, and resilient networks that meet the demands of the digital age.

10. Metaverse

The concept of the metaverse has gained significant attention and is emerging as one of the leading network technologies in today’s digital landscape. Defined as a virtual reality space where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users, the metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the way we connect, work, and experience the digital world.

One of the key drivers behind the metaverse’s rising popularity is its ability to provide limitless virtual experiences, support digital transformation, create economic opportunities, and foster social connections. As network technology continues to evolve, the metaverse holds immense potential to reshape the way we work, play, learn, and connect in the digital realm. With its wide adoption and growing popularity, the metaverse signifies a new era of network technology, offering exciting possibilities for individuals, businesses, and society as a whole.

Some of how the metaverse is being deployed today include Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) platforms, Gaming and Virtual Worlds, Social Networking Platforms, and Virtual Marketplaces and Digital Assets. According to Fortune Business Insight, “The global metaverse market size was valued at USD 234 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 416 billion in 2023 to USD 3,409 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 69.2% during the forecast period.”