08 August 2014

Network Adaptation vs Cognitive Adaptability

In the future, any promising technology is likely to adopted not only if it is reducing costs (e.g., Capex and Opex savings), and obviously if it is secure and trusted, but also if it is sustainable from a business viewpoint, which is if it is able to create new growth. Savings are not enough. In fact, "zero-Capex and zero-Opex" mean, at the end of the day, "zero-Revenues". 

Today, SDN and Virtualization seems solving any problems that Network and Service Providers have to face for optimizing their infrastructures, and as such for reducing costs. But where is the new business value in terms of new business developments ? Hard question, too little investigated in my opinion. Many says offering “programmability”, or reducing "time to market"... Maybe, but I think it's also about adaptability.

Adaptability is a broader concept than adaptation: it’s the capacity to continue to function in an unknown or uncertain environment (as from Michael Conrad’ book “Adaptability”), by altering its structure and dynamics. The constraints that keep the network capable of adapting flexibly in prevailing circumstances should not interfere with its potential freedom to function in future unknown or uncertain environments. A simple example: human body shows adaptation, while the nervous system exhibits adaptability (elaborating data collected from senses, learning, making decisions and then actuating actions through the body). Cognition is the key enabler. This metaphor is fitting well when thinking at future SD-Networks.

The strategic value of a low latency pervasive network, embedding processing and storage capabilities, and showing cognitive adaptability, will increase tremendously. Indeed, it will become the sustainable "fabric" of the future Digital Society and Economy.

Interestingly Michael Conrad’s book introduced also the concept ofhierarchical compensation” in Nature, which is the concept that "adaptation predominates at one level and adaptability predominates at another level", in a delicate balanceNo need to be more explicit on the metaphor: let's learn from Nature!