Before I switch off the grey matter for the annual Christmas festivities, I always try to note down what is likely to be the hot areas of activity for the start of the coming year and, with a little help from my friend Jack Daniels, I pinpointed the following five topics (in alphabetical order) as having a rising industry temperature.
Fog Networking/Computing: I believe 2017 is the year when we'll see cloud strategies evolve into fog networking/computing strategies. This is all about distributed, networked cloud computing assets but way beyond just mobile edge computing or turning a central office into a local data center -- I'm talking about a much more distributed cloud, from the mammoth centralized data center to the growing number of IoT modules being deployed in cars, factories, shops, homes and so on. I expect to start hearing about some joined up fog thinking during the first half of 2017, especially as IoT strategies start to blend with broader ICT and networking plans. You can check out some views from my learned colleagues at Heavy Reading about how fog will impact communications service providers right here. (See Cisco Makes a Play for the Next-Gen Central Office and Will ETSI Lose Its Edge as Fog Rolls In?)
LTE-Advanced Pro (4.5G): Yes, we're already in a 5G frenzy, but that's all tests, trials and pre-standards. What's very hot right now in the world of mobile broadband is LTE-Advanced Pro, otherwise known as 4.5G. It's standardized (3GPP Release 13) and incorporates capabilities such as enhanced carrier aggregation, Licensed Assisted Access to extend LTE into unlicensed 5GHz spectrum, full dimension (FD) MIMO and lower latency (perhaps as low as 2 milliseconds compared with 10ms for regular LTE-A). While operators try out 5G configurations, LTE-A Pro is where they'll be pointing their capex and, indeed, already are, but expect to hear a lot more about this in early 2017 and beyond. (See Nokia Boasts 4.5G Momentum With 110 Deals.)
MANO: Ah yes, management and orchestration… one of NFV's sticking points. I think this will be big news early in the year because I expect former AT&T executive Margaret Chiosi, as part of her new role at Huawei, to be a catalyst for MANO consolidation. Word on the street is that Chiosi will seek to align the efforts of the OPEN-O and ECOMP initiatives. That would be interesting. (See Ex-AT&T Bigwig Margaret Chiosi Joins Huawei, Orange to Focus Polish ECOMP Trials on Residential vCPE , Can ECOMP Grease the Virtualization Skids? and OPEN-O's SUN Rises on Brownfields, Too.)
NB-IoT: Mobile operators need to stake their claim and pinpoint a business strategy in the IoT arena. NB-IoT looks to be the starting point. I think the crescendo of noise around NB-IoT deployments and plans will grow during January and February and hit 11 on the volume dial by the time MWC kicks off in Barcelona. (See Eurobites: Vodafone & Nokia Team on NB-IoT R&D , Vodafone Ireland to Launch NB-IoT in Jan 2017, Telia 'Betting' on NB-IoT Over LoRa, Sigfox, Commercial NB-IoT Services Debuts in Wuzhen and MTN Puts Its Faith in NB-IoT, Vodacom to Follow.)
SD-WAN: This is already a very hot market, with lots of deployments and service launches and a big name hire, but this is now a market ripe for consolidation. I expect the SD-WAN platform sector to get a bit edgy in early 2017 and by the second half of the year we'll likely see some casualties. Watch out for more on this. (See Versa Grabs Global SD-WAN Win With Tata, Ahuja's Next Chapter Is Versa, Eurobites: BT Deploys Nuage for SD-WAN , Sprint Plans Global SD-WAN Launch for 2017 and Will SD-WANs Buck Past Trends?)
Of course there will be other hot trends -- virtual reality, DOCSIS 3.1, white box, containers, G.fast, artificial intelligence, 400G transport, ISDN (just kidding!) -- but I think there will be a lot of noise around this quintet.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading