A self-driving car is a vehicle that will take passengers to their destination without any more than the initial input of intent, taking stress of driving out of humans’ hands. Can the same be achieved in networking? Juniper Networks and Telefónica think so, and are building what they call a ‘Self-Driving Network’ in Spain to prove it.

The Self-Driving Network will be the next iteration of Telefonica’s existing Fusión Network, which it built to drive digital transformation across Spain. With Juniper, which works on automated and scalable networks, Telefónica is attempting to build its infrastructure into a network that can ‘self-analyse, self-discover, self-configure and, ultimately, self-correct.’ For example, it could automatically detect network faults or cyber attacks.

Kireeti Kompella, CTO of engineering at Juniper Networks, said: “The Self-Driving Network vision was conceived by Juniper Networks as a predictive autonomous network that adapts in real time to its environment. Telefónica inherently understands the need for a network that analyses network conditions, diagnoses faults and security breaches, and proactively takes remedial action, all without human intervention. This helps eliminate the complex programming and management tasks required today to run a network and will free up IT staff to innovate new services.”

Telefónica will test several tools as it prepares to build the new network, the first of which will be the Juniper Extension Toolkit; implemented with ‘extensive’ API use to enable more programmatic interaction, this will move the network towards automation.

The next phase will be the use of other resources to accelerate the use of telemetry, to collect the data necessary to detect the state of network resources and services. Finally, Telefónica will introduce control systems using AI and machine learning to exploit the telemetry information and analysis tools already implemented.

“The adoption of machine learning, artificial intelligence and control systems will act to guarantee latency, speed and other relevant parameters are monitored, analysed and addressed before they impact the performance of our network,” said Telefónica España CTO Joaquín Mata.