AI is Coming to a Network Near You and Sooner Than You Think

In the coming year, most of the automation in operations will be driven by a system (probably AI-backed) and not initiated by a human being. We’re already close, and the interest and desire to leverage AI for that automation is significant.

Lori MacVittie

May 28, 2024

3 Min Read
(Credit: Kenneth Forde / Alamy Stock Photo)

While hindsight is always nearly perfect, forecasting future trends where technology is concerned can be daunting. After all, you might be wrong. Then again, you might be right.

The thing is that when you’ve got year after year (like ten years) of data about technology, you can start to forecast what’s going to happen with fairly decent accuracy.

For example, back in 2020, we learned that the average enterprise application portfolio was comprised of 71% traditional apps and 29% modern apps. Then, the pandemic hit, and digital transformation accelerated beyond anyone's expectations.

Modernization madness kicked in, and most of it was focused on applications and operations. There was a move toward modern applications—containers and microservices—which was necessary to facilitate the rapid demand for digital services.

  • In 2022, 61% of organizations were adding a layer of APIs to traditional applications to make them more accessible to digital services.

  • In 2023, 59% were replacing traditional applications with modern equivalents.

Based on all that, you could model the impact on the enterprise portfolio with relative ease—which we did. Our model told us that modern applications would overtake traditional applications in 2025.

We were a year off. Because this year (2024) modern applications are now 51% of the enterprise application portfolio.

But we were close, and we were right. APIs have become the dominant force in security and delivery because they now tend to outnumber applications.

So when I tell you that AI is coming to a network near you, it’s because the trend lines around AIOps are pointing (strongly) upwards.

But you might like some data to back that up. So sit back and I’ll drop some on you.

Right now, operational scripts and toolchains managing networking, security, and delivery are on the cusp of being mostly driven by automation

  • 44% is initiated by an automation

  • 48% is initiated by human beings

  • 8% of organizations eschew operational automation altogether 

Now, I like to use data from my own research, but consider that a Comcast survey recently uncovered this nugget:

  • 41% say AI is already part of their network operations

  • 47% of respondents are actively discussing how and where to implement AI in network operations

Back to my own data, I can tell you where a lot of organizations would like to implement AI in operations:

  • 35% want to use AI to automatically adjust security policies and generate security configurations on threats detected

  • 44% want to use AI to automatically adjust app and API policies based on service level objectives

Where AI fits in

Given this data, I expect, in the next year, that most of the automation in operations will be driven by a system (probably AI-backed) and not initiated by a human being. We’re already close, and the interest and desire to leverage AI for that automation is significant.

I might be off by a year again, but I am confident that all the data out there—mine, yours, and in the industry—is pointing toward an AIOps dominated operational paradigm.

AI is coming to a network near you, and it might be a lot closer than you think.

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About the Author(s)

Lori MacVittie

Principal Technical Evangelist, Office of the CTO at F5 Networks

Lori MacVittie is the principal technical evangelist for cloud computing, cloud and application security, and application delivery and is responsible for education and evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University. She also serves on the Board of Regents for the DevOps Institute and CloudNOW, and has been named one of the top influential women in DevOps.

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