The field of artificial intelligence (Al) has tickled human interest for decades. It began in earnest in the mid-20th century when a group of scientists and programmers presented the world’s first true “artificial intelligence program: the Logic Theorist”. Since then, top scientists and practitioners have proven repeatedly how we can teach computers to do human tasks.
Whether playing chess, or speaking English, the potential for AI seems endless. In today’s world, one of the best known AI projects is Watson, by IBM. Watson which was originally developed to answer questions on Jeopardy, has since been developed and enabled by what seem like endless capabilities - from image recognition to designing wedding dresses. And if you were at MWC, perhaps you had a chance to see for yourself the ‘First Thinking Sculpture’ developed with Watson capabilities. All is moving forward very nicely.
The opposite seems to be the case, however, in telecoms, where it seems that time has come to a standstill. Many of the same manual tasks continue to permeate processes and workflows. Cognitive, or self-learning networks seem to be waiting for the promise of SDN to bring them to life. And though its image is one of innovation and thought-leadership, Telecoms continue to stagnate and wallow in unrealized hype and promises.
Few realize how little has changed in the way that carriers and operators build, utilize and manage their networks. Whether due to the fact that carrier-grade performance relies on stringent, rigid equipment, or because the industry is held captive by giants who enjoy the status quo, the sad fact is that the industry has stagnated over the years.
With the advent of 5G, this ‘stability’ will likely soon to come to an end. The sheer amount of traffic, and the different types of traffic traversing the network, will require a different way of networking. Networking will need to evolve to a new level, one where more of today’s currently manual tasks will be handed off to automation. Networking will require the induction of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, leading to a more ‘cognitive, self-driven’ type of network.
But these are big words. Some we’ve heard before with the launch of the software defined networking (SDN) paradigm. Other vendors have talked about similar products, yet implementation is being deferred or ‘slowly rolled out’ or underplayed, depending on whom you are talking about. In other words, it seems that ‘intelligent networks’ will have to wait to be enjoyed.
But this no longer has to be the case.
As a first step on the path to ‘self-driven networks’, ECI has already developed and launched a variety of apps which increase network efficiency, simplify network operations and maximize utilization. These apps are unique in that they run on the current installed base, with minimal setup and an intuitive user interface. By leveraging the power of information, control and automation, these apps can facilitate today’s manual networking by providing useful recommendations where to focus and how to improve the utilization of network resources. Much like AI.
Importantly, these apps are available TODAY and can be utilized on today’s networks. They are the only apps that enable operation on legacy SDH, Native Ethernet, WDM, OTN, MPLS and IP. They are fully customizable so dashboards, reports, workflows and templates can be built from scratch and exported to any format in zero-code fashion. And finally, they are future ready and can be adapted to work on future SDN and hybrid networks.
As networks become increasingly complex, carriers will need AI driven networks more than ever. ECI’s LightAPPS™ are already powering the shift toward AI-driven networks.