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Four big trends in cloud-enabled network evolution


March 8, 2022

As a person who helps companies build modern 5G and enterprise networks for a living, I spend a lot of my time thinking about connectivity. It sometimes comes up in the most unlikely moments.

For example, my wife and I recently renovated my mom’s home in New Jersey. This was a bad idea on many levels, because we live across the country, and it was during the pandemic. So we had to make a lot of decisions over video calls. And like anyone who has done a big renovation project, we had our fair share of frustration.

With 20/20 hindsight, I now see that communication was the most important part of making the project a success. This renovation reminded me of the work I do with my clients, where communication and trust are essential. Modern networks and the speed at which information is delivered are also vital to success. Think autonomous vehicles, manufacturing worker safety solutions, remote surgeries and online education. 

Data needs to move at the right speed. But that is only possible if organizations have their networks set up properly.

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Cloud-enabled networks are the foundation for innovation

For many, a network may have been something you thought was a utility, like gas or water in your home. But networks are not built-in, and they cannot remain static. Enterprises need to rearchitect their networks to become agile and competitive during the rise of massive data and constantly changing customer expectations.

Just like a home may get remodeling every so many years, organizations need to remodel their networks to keep up with advancements, drive operational efficiencies, develop new products and services and springboard into adjacent industries.

With the power of cloud, networks are more flexible, intelligent and secure.

Cloud-enabled networks are the bedrock for flexibility and intelligent connectivity that allows innovation in the Cloud Continuum. Key technologies, such as artificial intelligence / machine learning, internet of things (IoT) and augmented reality / virtual reality (AR/VR) for the metaverse, need a resilient and responsive high-capacity network to unlock business transformation.

You cannot have a stagnant network in a fast-evolving digital world.

Networks are rapidly changing

There is a massive change happening in the world of networks. Today’s networks must be able to meet a wide, rapidly changing set of needs as well as provide employees with seamless connectivity to data, applications and platforms from anywhere and everyone. But this change isn’t happening in a vacuum. We have identified four big trends that contribute to network evolution.

  1. Compressed (and continuous) transformation

    We have watched digital transformation move at an extraordinary pace in the past few years. What people need now is very different than what they needed even two years ago. For example, today many of us work from home and even educate our kids from home. We have also witnessed a transformation in how we get things in our houses, from food delivery to appliance installations.

    Cloud-enabled networks need to do more, with more data and faster response times. And that isn’t going to change. We’re not going back. Organizations need modern software-defined networks to keep up with this compressed transformation, high-capacity (such as speed or number of users) requirements and real-time responsiveness.

  2. Network hardware moving to software

    Moving from hardware-centric to software-centric networks has had massive implications. Now network software can run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTs) hardware. That allows new network providers to get in the game, but this situation comes with more choices. Like in a huge marketplace or a bazaar, organizations are shopping around. They must determine what they need, find it, integrate and run it. It can feel overwhelming—like everyone is yelling at you to see their offerings. Companies need guidance to decide what they need and find what they want.

    There are new as-a-service business models to pay by use versus buying outright. These changes impact the speed and agility with which you can spin up or spin down a modern network, creating flexibility.

  3. Software-defined networks accelerate change

    Traditional networks had tightly integrated hardware, software and associated tooling. But as software takes over, traditional networks are being replaced by agile and scalable software-based solutions. These software-based networks are powered by cloud and hence the rate of change in features and functionality is exponential. As a result, modern networks are now intelligent and more reliable.

  4. Need to build zero trust security from the beginning

    Security is another big concern organizations should consider right from the beginning. And companies now need a new, holistic approach to security. Strategies and solutions should be part of a single security framework rather than a separate, isolated set of tools. This will enable a zero-trust model — a "never trust, always verify" policy for users, workloads, networks, and devices — to reduce the risk of potential attacks and enable a more resilient environment. Adopting an end-to-end zero-trust network security strategy is critical and adds a new layer of complexity.

Introducing Cloud First Networks

Given how important it is for organizations to get networks “right” and how complex it has become in an era of compressed transformation, organizations need guidance. They need help with their networks and connectivity. More than three-quarters of executives expect external partners to play an important part in the rollout of 5G solutions. Companies must choose partners that fully understand the opportunities for 5G, software-defined networks, low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite, and Wi-Fi.

There are hundreds of network technology decisions. There’s use-case prioritization and the business case (does the business value outweigh the cost it will take to transform and run the network?).

Then, there are the skills. How do we upskill the legacy engineers and create new, higher-value jobs, integration capabilities and overall continuum architecture?

Accenture’s new Cloud First Networks practice can help. We orchestrate an ecosystem and help companies make sense of the changes. We help make unbiased technology decisions that are truly best for you.

We help design, build and operate these networks so you can focus on your core business and customers. We can build a bespoke business case for you, thanks to Accenture’s extensive industry experience (19 industries from retailers to oil companies).

Thinking back to my renovation project, I would liken Accenture to a general contractor. We can help simplify the build and run. You may have to cobble together 20 different vendors with 20 different contracts, and we can advise who you should work with or manage it all for you.

The power of cloud turns an old network into a new one by driving high-capacity, flexibility, real-time responsiveness, intelligence, reliability and security. We can help evolve your networks to accelerate your business transformation.

Meet Accenture Cloud First Networks.


Jefferson Wang

Senior Managing Director – Global Technology Convergence Lead