There is never a dull moment in the life of a network manager. Just when things seem to settle down, and everyone is comfortable with the mix of available technologies and solutions, BOOM, the next new thing enters the marketplace. To put the rapid change of things into perspective, here is our brief overview of the technologies that emerged and events that occurred last year that will have a great impact on enterprise IT this year.
The fragility of the world’s underlying infrastructure
But perhaps the biggest wake-up call about the vulnerability of our global connectivity infrastructure was the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption in January that cut the island off from the rest of the world.
As we noted in Tonga Volcano Highlights Global Undersea Cable Network Fragility, the global undersea cable network is very fragile and can go offline quickly. That is a problem because roughly 95 percent of intercontinental global data traffic travels over these cables. And unfortunately, the system is subject to disruptions from accidental cuts, malicious damage, and damage caused by natural disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis, and other incidents. As we noted in the article, the way to overcome the problem is via satellite communication, which is quite expensive.
The volcano’s impact was very limited in that it only impacted Tonga. However, there were numerous cloud outages that had global implications. As we noted in Lessons Learned from Recent Major Outages, wide-scale disruption to businesses worldwide. Most were caused by configuration changes done by the providers themselves, a handful were due to Mother Nature, and some were due to long-standing familiar issues like power outages.
To minimize the impact of such outages in 2023, enterprises should look for ways to minimize the impact on their business. That might include using multiple providers or, when available, selecting premium services that provide redundant capabilities when one cloud center goes out.
A new generation of Wi-Fi
There are new strains on networks and their administrators as the number of new Wi-Fi-connected devices in enterprises multiple and more users rely on bandwidth-intensive applications and services.
These needs led many enterprises to embrace Wi-Fi 6. As we noted in Why Wi-Fi 6’s Time is Now, “With the high data rates, low latency, and the high network density that Wi-Fi 6 offers, it is ideal for applications that need high throughput as well as for those needing to support a large number of connected devices.”
Complementing the raw capabilities Wi-Fi 6 offers, the Wi-Fi Alliance worked on enhanced features. For example, as we noted in Wi-Fi 6 2022 Trends: Not Your Grandfather's Wi-Fi, the group developed a number of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED network optimization technologies, including:
Also worth keeping an eye on this year is the growing use of Wi-Fi 6E. The biggest difference with Wi-Fi 6E is that devices use a dedicated 6E spectrum with additional 160 MHz channels. As such, Wi-Fi 6E connectivity has the potential to provide more bandwidth and lower latency. And it can be used in outdoor and campus environments as an enterprise alternative to cellular connectivity.
IT staffing remains a problem
The pandemic upended the way many networking and IT professionals worked. Most were forced to do their job from home. As workplace restrictions eased up, many decided they liked the work-from-home lifestyle. Some also had the chance to re-evaluate life priorities and opted to retire or take up another career. These factors have made it much harder for enterprises to meet their staffing needs.
One way companies are trying to address the problem is to offer incentives for current staff to stay. As we noted in Top No-Pain Perks You Can Use to Retain IT Staff, “during a time of record staff turnover, IT leaders are pulling out all the stops in an effort to keep their teams as intact and productive as possible.”
While salary increases remain a highly effective retention tool, a growing number of employers are offering things like flexible work hours and remote work options. Others are trying to keep staff by providing professional development in the form of IT training and education. And some are providing time off for volunteering and social impact work, as well as sponsoring success recognition and reward programs.
Another common staffing theme throughout last year that will persist this year is that the tables have turned in the hiring process. Candidates expect more from the entire interview, hiring, and onboarding process. That makes it all the more important to retain existing workers and upskill those workers to fill more advanced roles.
And existing employees have more clout. As we noted in How To Maintain a Robust IT Talent Pool in a Post-pandemic Workforce, enterprises must now embrace new methods and technologies to remain successful and avoid losing candidates to competitors. To address these issues, expect to see the adoption of more automation and more use of technologies like automation, AIOps, and observability that help IT managers more easily do their jobs.
Other areas of interest
There are many other technologies that emerged in 2022 that warrant attention in 2023. Some of the top ones we will be focusing on in our coverage include SASE, 5G and private 5G services, networking-as-a-Service, and more.