Over the past decade, many industries have undergone digital transformations, where digital technology is used to create fundamental changes. Well-known examples include Netflix for content delivery, Amazon for e-commerce and cloud computing, and Uber for mobility services. While many enterprises already critically depend on their networks to achieve their daily goals, networking has not yet gone through a similar digital transformation. Current technological advances, however, provide great promise for accelerating enterprise digital transformation to support emerging applications, such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) or an ever-increasing list of Internet of Things (IoT) applications and devices.
In this article, we focus on enterprise networks. Enterprises that have networks include businesses, schools, hospitals, retail, airports, manufacturing, utilities, and defense. Enterprise networks differ from the Internet in a number of fundamental ways, including: there are enterprise management applications for the entire enterprise network; the enterprise knows its most important applications and wants to gather estimates of enterprise health in order to optimize performance and economics; security threats continuously increase as attackers try to extract value from the enterprise; many users connect via Wi-Fi, often via personal devices (mobile, laptop, or IoT), which should be considered part of the enterprise network for the purpose of optimizing user experience and security; and important trade-offs are often necessary to meet constraints and changing business requirements, which requires human judgment but prevents full automation. While research efforts to improve the Internet have spanned decades, including Feamster and Rexford,8 the research community has also realized there is a gap, and greater focus on enterprise networks is needed.
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