Network complexity will increase dramatically over the next 5 years as will the amount of devices inhabiting these networks. Ad-hoc and active paradigms will make the already onerous task of network management increasingly problematic. An approach to managing such networks based on bacterial colony behaviour is discussed, offering innate abilities for essential tasks such as software proliferation, load balancing and differing but distinct qualities of service. Robustness to fractal request streams is also demonstrated using real world requests as a source of simulated network load. The ‘hands off’ element of the adaptive algorithm is a major asset for any configuration and optimisation task. This biologically inspired adaptive management solution could be the ideal approach to managing the behaviour of complex data networks of the future.