An enterprise network serves as the foundation for reliably connecting users, devices and applications, providing access to data across local area networks and the cloud, as well as delivering crucial insight into analytics.
But in the wake of a year that was no doubt shaped by COVID-19 and the disruption it brought to the industry, how have enterprise networks been impacted, and what are the requirements moving forward?
What were previously technology nice-to-haves and future infrastructure intentions, are now swiftly becoming business imperatives.
In this blog, we’ll explore our top 10 predictions for network infrastructure in 2021.
1. Cloud Application Delivery
The traditional office-based-model has no doubt permanently changed and flexible working arrangements brought forward by the pandemic will continue. A Boston Consulting study from last year found that 63% of employees want a hybrid model whereby they continue to work from home part of the time.
Organizations will further turn to the cloud for application delivery, placing an investment in remote connectivity and new security functionality.
2. Businesses Turn to Big Data and Analytics
The requirement for businesses to be agile, change and adapt is more prevalent than ever, and decision-makers need to identify trends and ultimately stay ahead of the curve through outcomes-based strategies.
Big data is becoming an imperative tool in every organization’s arsenal, though its presence is superfluous without the appropriate means to disseminate and analyse it.
We predict this will drive the recruitment of data professionals and further, the simplification in data management through self-service means, accessible to non-data-professionals.
“It’s really about democratizing analytics. It is really about getting insight in a fraction of the time with less skill than is possible today.” – Rita Sallam, vice president and analyst at Gartner.
3. The Year of Mass Adoption for Cognitive / Artificial Intelligence
With big data, comes big responsibility and moreover – big processing requirements, which is where AI will be heavily recruited.
2021 will be the year of mass adoption for AI, as businesses of all levels have experienced a paradigm shift into a digital-first model. Corporate networks have been tested through remote working arrangements, uncovering major reliability issues and security threats. IT leaders are looking for a set and forget solutions that automatically provide optimization and security, which is where software such as Opmantek’s NMIS, opEvents, opConfig and Open-AudIT can assist.
“Opmantek software is a key system used by IT operations teams across all industries — it acts as the dashboard of a car and tells them how fast everything is going and lets them know when something is faulty. It even predicts future faults, and that’s a big part of the AI. The longer you run our software, the smarter it gets — it learns about your IT Infrastructure and starts to automatically manage it better and deliver better information to the IT operations team.” said Danny Maher, Chairman of Opmantek .
4. Hybrid Clouds in High Demand
Agility, speed, security, scalability and compliance are all considerations for IT decision-makers.
Though, there’s never a blanket / one size fits all solution for every business use case, and so the demand for hybrid cloud environments will continue to grow. The traditional model of cloud providers is that of a one-stop-shop. However, we predict as demand grows; cloud market leaders will introduce greater interoperability and further allow users to introduce cloud tools across their existing on-campus networks. Collaboration between cloud providers may even be on the cards as users demand greater flexibility.
5. Networking Virtualization
Network virtualization offers many benefits by automating and simplifying processes, including network configuration flexibility, improved control over-segmentation, speed, increased security and cost savings.
According to research by Spiceworks, 30% of businesses currently use network virtualization technology — and an additional 14% plan to use it within the next 2 years.
6. Unified Communication And Collaboration Tools Are Here To Stay
End-user adoption is often one of the greatest barriers for IT professionals looking to implement new software. However, seemingly overnight, employees were catapulted into a reality where unified communications as a service (UCaaS) was no longer just an occasional collaboration tool, but rather a necessity of the employment.
We have changed our habits and the way in which we do business. Even as the workforce begin to transition back to office or hybrid office/work from home environments, there’s no doubt that UCaaS is here to stay. Providers will introduce new functionality and continue to diversify their offering to accommodate hybrid working in 2021.
7. WiFi Gets an Upgrade
Businesses and consumers alike want things faster, easier and more efficient, and WiFi is no exception. Enter WiFi 6e.
6e not only offers new airwaves for routers to use, but it doesn’t require overlapping signals.
One of the major benefits of 6e is a reduction in network congestion, specifically in areas where users are closely spaced. As the pandemic continues to unfold, rush hour and crowded spaces are less of an issue, so it may be a waiting game as to when in 2021 we realise 6e’s true potential.
8. IoT (Internet of Things) – More than just Alexa
As digital transformation is on the rise, so is IoT and its use cases. A SecurityToday article forecasted that by 2021 there would be 35 billion IoT devices installed worldwide.
IoT is already revolutionizing the way key industries do business, however, healthcare will double down in 2021. Reduced access to face-to-face medical contact has accelerated the need for remote care, and according to Allied Market research – the global internet of things in the healthcare market is expected to reach $332.672 billion by 2027.
9. A Focus on Cybersecurity
In light of recent high profile cybersecurity attacks which infiltrated private companies, state and federal organizations by inserting malicious code into trusted software; cybersecurity and secure network monitoring will be paramount.
If you have data or services of value, you need to protect it properly. Keith Sinclair – CTO & Co-founder of Opmantek says, “It is critical to business continuity and data security that you have security controls in your environment to mitigate risk.”
10. Infrastructure Management Software Leveraged
Application demands are continuing to grow and networks must respond. Network professionals must find means of simplifying these increasingly complex systems and environments. Here’s where automated network management software will be leveraged.
Opmantek Software serves to augment a network engineering or system administration role. As well as emulating actions that network engineers take within a network management system, it can also perform advanced maintenance tasks, assist in the interpretation of network data and communicate effectively with other digital systems in order to categorise, resolve and escalate potential network issues.
For more information about Opmantek and the services we provide, get in touch. Our network engineers are available to chat through specific issues you may be facing within your own network environment.