Evolving technology and data trends such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, data privacy and cloud are paving the path for significant IT and network architecture changes in 2019, according to Equinix.
With a geographic footprint across 52 global markets and nearly 10,000 customers, Equinix has developed unique insights into the key drivers pushing enterprises to succeed in the digital economy.
This vantage point is enabled through a platform that connects established and emerging ecosystems of enterprises and cloud and network service providers.
Equinix's 2019 predictions include:
1) Paving a Path to the Promise of 5G — Tomorrow’s high-speed wireless networks will accelerate today’s network transformation
Equinix anticipates that 5G will open up endless possibilities of digital transformation, especially in an IoT and AI-connected world. Australian 5G networks will be switched on in 2019 with leading telecommunications companies committing to selling commercial 5G services by 2019 or 2020.
To attain the high radio density required for 5G, operators are looking to optimise costs through the use of open-source commodity networking hardware and virtualisation of the wireless networking stack.
These efforts will pave the way for an Edge architecture to solve for cloud radio networks that will power several radios through pools of virtualised network software.
Equinix anticipates increased investments in 2019 in the revamping of existing cellular building infrastructure and building of new edge infrastructure, as well as innovation in hardware and virtual wireless networking stacks for both performance and cost optimisation.
2) Riding the Rise of Distributed Artificial Intelligence Architectures — Next-generation architectures will break free from centralised locations
Equinix predicts that the growing use of AI in business and society will increase data usage exponentially. Australian companies are already investing in AI to further improve customer experience and enhance digital innovation.
While first-generation AI architectures have historically been centralised, Equinix predicts that in 2019 enterprises will enter the realm of distributed AI architectures, where AI model building and model inferencing will take place at the local edge, physically closer to the original source of the data. To access more external data sources for accurate predictions, enterprises will turn to secure data transaction marketplaces.
They will also strive to leverage AI innovation in multiple public clouds without getting locked into a single cloud, further decentralising AI architecture.
3) “Un-Blocking” the Chain — A network of networks will mature blockchain for greater business security and monetisation
Blockchain investments are growing at a CAGR of 73%, with a projected total spending of US$11.7 billion by 2022, according to IDC. Investments in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) are also forecast to reach US$2.1 billion in the same period. Equinix predicts that:
Enterprises will start to participate in multiple blockchain networks (e.g. food safety, financial services, global container shipment), thus creating a network of networks — something that allows them to simultaneously interact with multiple blockchain ecosystems.
Blockchain performance will become a more important requirement within the enterprise space, driven by the need to accommodate more than simple transaction data or as an element in applications where real-time performance and linkage with other data sources matter.
Examples of performance-sensitive blockchain applications include track & trace (supply chain), machine-to-machine (IoT) communication/exchange, and cross-border currency settlement, just to name a few.
Integration will become a huge challenge as enterprises combine their legacy applications with multiple blockchain networks, necessitating the deployment of exchange points for blockchain participants to directly connect and collaborate.
4) Manoeuvring the Data Privacy Maze — Changing data protection laws and heightened privacy concerns will inspire more progressive and distributed security processes
Many enterprises and SaaS providers are deploying mini-clouds in multiple regions in order to adhere to local data residence and compliance requirements.
They are also looking at distributed data management architectures that require global networks and data fabrics in order to coherently manage these distributed mini-clouds.
5) Tapping Interconnection to Tame Cloud Complexity — Hybrid multi-cloud environments will increase the relevance of interconnection
Enterprises are now accessing SaaS, IaaS and PaaS solutions from multiple providers, and Equinix anticipates that 2019 will see the next level of challenges associated with hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud approaches.
According to an IDC report, 66% of Australian enterprises see cloud technology as a tool for competitive advantage and more than 60% of Australian enterprise IT organisations will commit to multi-cloud architecture before the end of 2018, driving up the rate and pace of change in their ICT architectures.
Equinix believes enterprises will struggle with expanding their security perimeters, as well as integration and management issues as they pursue hybrid multicloud architectures.
These predicted trends indicate that enabling capabilities such as security, analytics and data exchange in close proximity to the cloud is a must for seamless cross-border data flow, and the right interconnection partner can help organisations navigate through the complexity of cloud.
According to the Global Interconnection Index, a market study published by Equinix, Interconnection Bandwidth between Enterprises and Cloud and IT Providers in Asia-Pacific is projected to grow 99% CAGR through 2021, supporting businesses building out new digital services and migrating existing workloads to third-party cloud platforms.