It\u2019s not just speeds and feeds anymore, it's intelligent software, integrated security and automation that will drive the networks of the future.\nThat about sums up the networking areas that Keerti Melkote, HPE's president, Intelligent Edge, thinks are ripe for innovation in the next few years. He has a broad perspective because his role puts him in charge of the company's networking products, both wired and wireless.\n\n\u201cOn the wired side, we are seeing an evolution in terms of manageability," said Melkote, who founded Aruba, now part of HPE. "I think the last couple of decades of wired networking have been about faster connectivity. How do you go from a 10G to 100G Ethernet inside data centers? That will continue, but the bigger picture that we\u2019re beginning to see is really around automation.\u201d\u00a0\n\nThe challenge is how to inject automation into areas such as data centers, IoT and granting network access to endpoints. In the past, automation and manageability were afterthoughts, he said. \u201cThe wired network world never really enabled native management monitoring and automation from the get-go.\u201d\u00a0\nMelkote said HPE is changing that world with its next generation of switches and apps, starting with a switching line the company introduced a little over a year ago, the Core Switch 8400 series, which puts the the ability to monitor, manage and automate right at the heart of the network itself, he said.\nIn addition to providing the network fabric, it also provides deep visibility, deep programmability and deep automation capabilities. "That is where we see the wide network foundation evolving," he said.\nIn the wireless world, speeds and capacity have also increased over time, but there remains the need to improve network efficiency for high-density deployments, Melkote said. Improvements with the latest generation of wireless, Wi-Fi 6, address this by focusing on efficiency and reliability and high-density connectivity, which are necessary given the explosion of wireless devices, including IoT gear, he said.\u00a0\nArtificial intelligence will also play a major role in how networks are managed, he said. \u201cBehind the scenes, across both wired and wireless, AI and AI operations are going to be at the heart of how the vision of manageability and automation is going to be realized,\u201d Melkote said. \u00a0\nAI operations are fundamentally about collecting large amounts of data from network devices and gaining insights from the data to predict when and where the network is going to face capacity and congestion problems that could kill performance, and to discover security issues, he said.\u00a0\n\u201cAny one of those insights being able to proactively give our customers a view into what\u2019s happening so they can solve a problem before it really becomes a big issue is a huge area of research and development for us,\u201d Melkote said.\nAnd that includes AI in wireless networks. \u201cEven more than Wi-Fi 6, I see the evolution of AI behind the Wi-Fi 6 network or the next-generation wired network being really the enabler of the next evolution of efficiency, the next level of insights into the operations of the network,\u201d he said.\nFrom a security perspective, IoT poses a particular challenge that can be addressed in part via network features. \u201cThe big risk with IoT is that these devices are not secured with traditional operating systems. They don\u2019t run Windows; they don\u2019t run Linux; they don\u2019t run an OS,\u201d Melkote said. As a result, they are susceptible to attacks, "and if a hacker is able to jump onto your video camera or your IoT sensor, it can then use that to attack the rest of the internal network.\u201d\nThat creates a need for access control and network segmentation that isolates these devices and provides a level of visibility and control that is integrated into the network architecture itself. HPE regards this as a massive shift from what enterprise networks have been used for historically \u2013 connecting users and taking them from Point A to Point B with high quality of service, Melkote said.\n"The segmentation is, I think, the next big evolution for all the new use cases that are emerging,\u201d Melkote said. \u201cThe segmentation not only happens inside a LAN context with Wi-Fi and wired technology but in a WAN context, too. You need to be able to extend it across a wide area network, which itself is changing from a traditional MPLS network to a software-defined WAN, SD-WAN.\u201d\u00a0\nSD-WAN is one of the core technologies for enabling edge-to-cloud efficiency, an ever-more-important consideration given the migration of applications from private data centers to public cloud, Melkote said. SD-WAN also extends to branch offices that not only need to connect to data centers, but directly to the cloud using a combination of internet links and private circuits, he said.\n\u201cWhat we are doing is basically integrating the security and the WAN functionality into the architecture so you don\u2019t have to rely on technology from third parties to provide that additional level of security or additional segmentation on the network itself,\u201d Melkote said. \u00a0\u00a0\nThe edge of the network \u2013 or the intelligent edge \u2013 is also brings with it its own challenges. HPE says the intelligent edge entails analysis of data where it is generated to reduce latency, security risk and costs. It breaks intelligent edge types into three groups: operational technology, IT and IoT edges.\nPart of the intelligent edge will include micro data centers that will be deployed at the point where data gets created, he said. "That\u2019s not to say that the on-prem data center goes away or the cloud data center goes away," Melkote said. "Those two will continue to be served, and we will continue to serve those through our switching\/networking products as well as our traditional compute and storage products."\nThe biggest challenge will be bringing these technologies to customers to deploy them quickly. "We are still in the early days of the intelligent-edge explosion. I think in a decade we\u2019ll be talking about the edge in the same way we talk about mobility and cloud today, which is in the past tense\u00a0\u2013 and they\u2019re massive trends. The edge is going to be very similar, and I think we don\u2019t say that yet simply because I don\u2019t think we have enough critical mass and use cases yet.\u201d\nBut ultimately, individual industustries will glean advantages from the intelligent edge, and it will spread, Melkote said.\n\u201cA lot of the early work that we\u2019re doing is taking these building blocks of connectivity, security, manageability and analytics and packaging them in a manner that is consumable for retail use cases, for energy use cases, for healthcare use cases, for education use cases and workplace use cases," he said. Every vertical has its own unique way to derive value out of this package. We are in the early days figuring that out."