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7 Network Trends You Can Expect in 2020

  • 2020 is shaping up to be a busy one for enterprise IT network teams. Other than SD-WAN implementations and WiFi 6 upgrades across the campus, the past few years have been a bit slow in terms of implementing new and innovative technologies. But in 2020, many network teams are poised to be implementing advanced platforms, tools, and methodologies that bring aging networks into a new era. Thus, this slideshow will point out projects that your IT department is – or should – be planning for.

    From a high-level perspective, network teams will be tasked with creating networks that support emerging services, create time-saving efficiencies, and extend the reach of the corporate network footprint. Digitization of previously manual processes will be driving the need for faster network speeds and new services. Many of these technologies will be implemented into the LAN/WAN, while others are more cloud- and service provider-oriented. Regardless, these technologies can enhance visibility, speed of deployment, and ultimately drive business productivity well into the next decade. Let's have a look at the top 7 networking technologies and architecture trends you should expect to see as we enter the New Year.

  • Network automation

    Network automation

    The demand for rapidly deployed networking services is beginning to outpace a network team's availability to execute on those requests. Fortunately, network automation tools are coming to the rescue. Whether you go with a pre-packaged product from a commercial networking vendor – or an open-source alternative – these tools are most capable of assisting with automating the following tasks:

    • Repeatable network configurations
    • Config validation testing
    • Duplicating deployments
    • Replicating operational management tasks
  • 5G

    5G for branch office connectivity

    5G is largely being looked at from a mobile device connectivity perspective. While important, the new wireless technology will also enhance enterprises from a branch office perspective. Beginning in 2020, look for network vendors to begin integrating 5G into their cellular branch office gateways. This will allow the rapid deployment of remote sites which offer data speeds that rival far more expensive wired broadband alternatives. For businesses that need to be able to quickly spin up an office – or require the ability to move an office at a moment's notice rapidly, 5G will be a game-changing technology.

  • IoT

    IoT network segmentation and monitoring

    IoT is finally shaping up to be a reality in 2020. Because of major security concerns, the virtual segmentation of IoT devices from the rest of the network will be a major task for the network department. The creation of secure zones – called microsegments – will allow for IoT devices to operate on the same corporate network while also lessening the risk to other parts of the network. 

    Then, once implemented, it's likely that the monitoring of IoT devices will fall on the network team to implement. Being able to view end-to-end IoT monitoring will not only help with improving performance, but it will also help to ensure that IoT devices haven't been compromised by identifying when IoT device communication veers from the norm.

  • Internet edge

    Simplification of the Internet edge

    As enterprises move more of their applications, data, and services into public clouds, many are realizing that little to no servers in the data center are running Internet-facing services. That means that current Internet edge architectures are often more complex than they need to be.

    BGP has commonly been used at the Internet edge to provide full internet redundancy by connecting to two or more BGP peers with the same public IP space. Yet, if all Internet-facing services now reside in public clouds, that level of inbound Internet redundancy in the private network is no longer needed. Instead, only outbound Internet redundancy will be required. If that’s the case, BGP can be eliminated at the Internet edge in favor of much more simplistic outbound Internet load balancing techniques.

  • Network analytics

    Network analytics

    Big data and advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have progressed to the point where the two can be used to provide unprecedented levels of network performance health information. While some organizations have been piloting the use of network analytics (NA) tools in their environments in 2019, look for many to begin using NA in production environments starting in 2020.

  • Cloud

    Managing consistent policy across hybrid and multi-cloud networks

    One of the biggest headaches of the past few years from a network perspective has been the need to create and maintain consistent network and network security policies across multiple clouds. Because public and private cloud data centers often use different underlying network equipment, the network configuration steps to create policies are usually vastly different.  As businesses move from hybrid clouds to multi-cloud architectures, being able to maintain homogeneous network and security policies across private and public cloud networks can become overwhelming.

    Multi-cloud management platforms are one way to solve this problem in 2020. Additionally, many cloud service providers are beginning to provide customers with multi-cloud policy management tools. For example, AWS recently unveiled AWS Outposts. Outposts offers a way to extend AWS policies, services, and APIs across other data centers. Thus, the ability to manage a single set of network/security policies across multiple clouds will not be as challenging as it has been in the past.

  • Edge

    Edge computing changes what’s possible

    Edge computing is the concept of taking compute and data much closer to the end-user when compared to traditional cloud computing. Doing so significantly reduces bandwidth costs while also lowering network latency. Network carriers are expected to begin rolling out edge services to customers beginning in 2020. While enterprise use cases are relatively few right now, it won't be long before virtually all business verticals find a use for edge computing that will cut costs, improve processes, or create a competitive advantage.