Three quarters of network providers expect significant or full network automation within five years, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of Ciena.
The survey of service providers and large enterprises found that 75% of organisations expect to have automated their networks in the next five years.
Investment in network automation is expected to rise by 30% between now and 2021, as organisations deploy intelligent automation, programmable optics and advanced analytics capabilities.
The independent research report was compiled by ACG Research, based on surveys of 208 decision-makers from 200 different service providers and large enterprises.
The top motivations cited for increasing automation include: faster service delivery, improved customer satisfaction, the ability to support more complex and innovative services, and increased business agility.
Respondents stated that the top concerns and gaps they must address to ensure the success of their network transformations are: security, intelligence/analytics, and a skilled workforce that not only understands traditional telecom networks but new IT and software innovations, as well.
Overall, 60% of respondents across the globe indicate openness and interoperability as being "very important" for their automation solution and 82% plan to use open source software from vendors or a mix of sources.
Tim Doiron, principal analyst, Intelligent Networking, ACG Research, commented: "We all realize that network automation is happening, but we really wanted to delve deeper into service provider and large enterprise experiences, expectations and challenges with automation. One of the key survey findings that stood out to me was the need for trained, skilled personnel in the area of programmable networks and automation. Operators expect their vendor partners to be able to help them with not only products and services but also with bridging the skills gap between telecom and IT as they execute their automation journey."
Joe Cumello, vice president, Head of Global Marketing, Ciena, said: "A new theme has started to emerge in our conversations with customers around the globe. Automation, programmability, and intelligence have become critical keystones of future networks. With the pace of growth in capacity, devices, and mobility moving exceedingly fast, adaptive networks, which combine these attributes, will allow organizations to not only survive, but thrive in the face of increasing complexity and unpredictable growth to support the services and applications of tomorrow."