Where Network Protocols Are Going in the Next 10 Years

4 min read Michael Carroll on Apr 11, 2023
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Network and communication protocols are constantly changing, and most app developers must adapt to the evolving landscape. It’s the only way data transmission is secure between different mobile devices connected to the same network. 

But hackers always find a way. 

In 2022 alone, ethical hackers discovered over 65,000 vulnerabilities caused by software misconfigurations and improper authorization. And every day, it'll only get riskier for developers. 

The increasing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices introduces more vulnerable points hackers can exploit to enter your network. This is a real threat accelerated by the shift to remote work in an increasingly global economy. 

The real problem is our habit of holding on to what’s familiar during uncertain times, and it’s no different in app development. 

App developers put their job on the line every time they implement a massive networking update, like a new network protocol. So it's not surprising they tend to favor technology they understand. The only way to overcome this fear is by ensuring developers stay up to date with the latest networking trends, their functions, benefits, and possible shortcomings. 

In this article, we remove the stigma connected to protocol changes by discussing the latest advancements in the field and their benefits.

Where are network protocols heading?

Two factors drive innovations in network and communication protocol architecture: speed and security. We can see this in almost every trend on the below list, starting with: 

#1 Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA) certification of EtherNet/IP products

Industry 4.0 opened the door for significant advancements in smart, autonomous systems for monitoring and controlling machines, robots, and cars. However, its adoption is slow since IT leaders are plagued by concerns about the risk and cost of these complex systems. 

App developers can address these concerns using the EtherNet/IP framework. 

ODVA designed EtherNet/IP as a proven communication protocol solution ready for Industry 4.0 applications. The framework uses normal internet and EtherNet standards to connect all devices. It also follows the standards of Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), a truly media-independent protocol supported by hundreds of vendors worldwide. 

The industry will see more applications following the CIP Security and EtherNet/IP guidelines set by ODVA since they are less susceptible to cyber threats. CIP Security uses open security technologies to ensure data encryption and message authenticity without excessive latency. ODVA updates its standards regularly, ensuring applications stay future-proof.  

#2 Implementing SD-WAN for better integration and lower costs

Businesses use wide area networks (WANs) to connect a sizable physical computer network across long distances. But the traditional WAN is no longer suitable for today’s application.

The future of work is remote, and WAN isn’t suitable for what this shift brings with it. Since WAN uses physical intermediaries, there are latency issues when connecting with cloud-based applications. Also, maintenance is time-consuming. WAN requires hands-on programming whenever an application needs anything, from updates to more bandwidth. 

App developers are now looking at software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), the latest evolution of WAN technology, as the answer. 

SD-WAN easily integrates with enterprise-level cloud services (Office 365, AWS, Azure, etc.) and supports security features like firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs), which WAN struggles with. In addition to low-latency, app development becomes faster since SD-WAN helps reduce deployment to weeks instead of months. So it’s not surprising 92% of companies are expected to adopt SD-WAN by 2026

#3 Multi-cloud networks will rapidly outpace single-cloud and on-prem networks

Hardware as a technology has stagnated. All innovation is now around the software being installed on the hardware, increasing the need for more reliable cloud infrastructure to host the software.

A dependable cloud service provider uses multiple redundant servers distributed across many geographic regions to provide reliable connectivity. But this also leaves the system vulnerable to online threats and introduces numerous points of failure. Identifying and addressing issues take time, leading to a bad experience for the end users and those responsible for network management.

An experience like this can be avoided using a multi-cloud network system, i.e., working with multiple cloud service providers. 75% of IT professionals have already implemented a multi-cloud networking system to manage their applications and the devices used to access them. Developers get more flexibility, accessibility, and the freedom to create applications that work across many platforms. 

#4 The adoption of decentralized encryption protocols

Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) VPNs are another outdated technology that doesn't fit into today’s remote work environment. 

Traditional MPLS infrastructure is expensive because it uses a "backhaul" when accessing cloud-based applications. The traffic is "backhauled" via central data centers, meaning information takes longer to reach its destination. Due to distance and limited bandwidth, using an MPLS network can impact productivity and user experience. Developers need solutions that can scale up or down depending on requirements. 

According to IDC, 49% of IT departments are looking to move to a network-as-a-service (NaaS) model where a third party provides cloud-based networking functions. This consumption-based model saves app developers from maintaining expensive network technology. No more deploying, updating, or debugging means developers can focus on the real money maker: the apps.

Your networking partner in PubNub

Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace. So sticking to what you know may not be the right approach to securing your network from hackers and crashes.

But we can rest easy knowing steps are being taken to mitigate the risks, like the ODVA setting network protocol standards, SD-WAN growing in popularity, or organizations opting for a NaaS model for cloud-based software.  

PubNub is the ideal partner for developers looking for a low-latency solution where they don’t have to worry about managing network connections when collaborating in a remote work environment. Our software development kits (SDKs) use a fine-grained authorization model with built-in point-to-point and end-to-end encryption to protect your network infrastructure.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our offerings. Or sign up for a free trial to explore how PubNub can transform real-time interactions on your web apps, mobile apps, and IoT devices.