With the new year comes the inevitable urge to look back at the achievements of the past year, but also to look ahead at what is to come. So like many in the industry, our experts at Ciena are busy making a few predictions about what 2017 has in store for the telecom and networking industry.

And since our experts are some of the most distinguished tech experts in the world, some of whom helped invent the technologies that connect our world today, these are generally some good folks to listen to for insights into the future.

Here’s what they see coming in 2017:

1) Get ready for the “Orchestration of Things”

Rick Dodd, SVP of Open Architecture, highlights the need for network orchestration among his 4 Network Predictions recently published in vmblog.com.

The last ten years were about the fusing of computing and networking, and the next ten will be about the symbiotic relationship of the network and "things." I don't just mean that a you'll be able to attach your light bulbs and thermostat to the internet; that's all very 2010. Instead I mean that, increasingly, physical things will interact with a more dynamic network to the benefit of both, and this will be implemented very much like the network orchestration we're beginning to see today.

The point is that a network orchestrator can control anything with an API. From there it's a small leap to imagine controlling more economically significant things: power systems, sensor arrays, industrial and medical equipment, etc. It will be exciting to see some creative minds figure out new and interesting uses of IoT, especially as it blends into the network.

2) The openness movement will further penetrate submarine networking

Brian Lavallée, Ciena Director of Portfolio Solutions, sees the openness revolution hitting the submarine networking market.

On the heels of its increased adoption by the cloud and terrestrial networking spaces, the openness movement and momentum will find its way deeper into the rather conservative submarine networking marketing space. There are simply too many business benefits associated with openness, the primary one being greater choice, that will entice submarine cable operators to actively pursue an increased amount of openness in their network designs, starting with open submarine cables where wet plants and Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) will be acquired from best-in-breed vendors.

3) The self-driving, autonomous network finally comes of age

Karl Horne, Ciena CTO for the Asia Pacific region, sees network automation as one of 5 key innovations he predicted in CIO Asia.

Unrelenting waves of new applications and services will continue to pressure the way cloud-based resources are managed. To adapt, we will start to see a new kind of network - one that can self-monitor and self-manage, constantly assessing bandwidth pressures and automatically adjusting or reallocating resources accordingly. This new era of programmable networking - with reach, latency, efficiency and cost policies defined by the network operator and executed by the network itself - has the potential to radically reduce the costs associated with design, implementation, and ongoing network evolution and provide a superior customer experience.

4) 400G deployments will begin with a focus on DCI

Helen Xenos, Ciena Director of Portfolio Solutions, says that early adoption of 400G is coming soon.

2016 brought significant network build-outs from OTT providers, ensuring users can watch their favorite movie, stream video, or Snapchat with minimal latency. A few examples of the growth being driven by applications – we saw 10 Terabits of capacity turned up across the Atlantic in a single month, and 19 Terabits/s capacity required in a single city. In 2017, as the technology becomes available, we will see early adopters fast track the standardization process and start wide 400G deployments. Data Center interconnectivity will be the key application, where 400G wavelength deployments promise to drive significant reduction in power, footprint and general transport costs.

5) Network encryption goes mainstream

Joe Marsella, Ciena CTO for the EMEA region, predicts the mainstream adoption of network encryption as one of his 3 predictions published in DatacenterDynamics.

In 2017, holistic network security will become more important than ever and we can expect to see encryption transition from a niche play to a more pervasive technology. New EU legislation such as GDPR will be a significant driver behind broader adoption of encryption across networks. Also, 2017 represents the last chance for network operators as well as their customers to plan, budget and deploy GDPR readiness solutions to ensure compliance once the legislation comes into force in early 2018.

6) DevOps adoption brings a competitive advantage

Tim Pearson, Ciena Director of Product Line Management, predicts in this DevOps Digest article that the devops revolution will emerge as a competitive differentiator for service providers.

In 2017 we will see the emergence of DevOps as a significant competitive advantage as new service roll-outs accelerate innovative offerings to market and consumers of these services begin to expect rapid and iterative improvements to address their evolving requirements. As consumer expectations change to adapt to the pace and flexibility of orchestrated and DevOps driven services, providers at the forefront of this innovation will experience a competitive advantage in capturing new business and significant monetization of their investments.

7) 5G wireless will be seriously considered as an alternative to fiber access

Brian Lavallée, Ciena Director of Portfolio Solutions, sees 5G becoming a viable access technology.

As 5G wireless technology matures and nears standardization by the appropriate standards committees and groups, it will become a viable access technology alternative for network operators. The benefits of shipping a 5G access device to a consumer and/or business and have it self-provision and connect to a mobile network is an enticing alternative to the rather involved rollout and ongoing field maintenance of fiber-based solutions. Although it will likely be a bumpy ride as the technology is tested, matures, and improves, it will nevertheless gain great attention to any service provider wanting a rapid way to roll out or upgrade broadband services to the masses.

8) The Internet of Things will open new opportunities for carriers

Loudon Blair, Senior Director of Corporate Strategy, sees opportunity for carriers with the coming of IoT, as he stated in this recent IoT predictions list in IoT Central.

This year we’ll see carriers face up to the challenges of digital disruption: avoiding service commoditization and building compelling digital services to compete with Over-The-Top players. Their efforts will focus on the opportunities on offer in the emerging IoT market, and as they launch IoT services and platforms, carriers will benefit from two core differentiators. First, they already own the network: the key piece of infrastructure needed to realize consumer IoT services. Second, carriers ‘own’ the customers as subscribers to their networks.

9) How about some New Year’s resolutions as well

Instead of predictions, this year Steve Alexander, Ciena’s CTO, gives a few New Year’s resolutions for the industry to work on together.  The list includes embracing IT and telecom convergence, and shedding a few (hardware) pounds. You can see his entire list of resolutions in this Network World piece.