Critical predictions for network management this year

The unprecedented impact of the past year and the resultant shift towards remote working has led to a range of new considerations for the network industry, and businesses must ensure they aren’t left behind in the rapidly shifting landscape

2021 looks set to be a transformative period for network management, so here are our top predictions for how the industry will shape up next year.

Cloud & edge infrastructure

Due to the increase in remote working in 2020, businesses will continue to develop edge deployments to allow remote teams to collaborate effectively in 2021. With the physical office space becoming less of a must-have for business operations, getting data closer to users in varying locations will become crucial to reducing latency and remaining competitive.

Remote deployments with zero touch provisioning and TPM chips to prevent hardware tampering will become more common with the reduction of engineers physically attending sites. As the ultra-fast speeds of 5G are more widely adopted and smart cities start to become the norm, next-level connectivity will enable enhanced capacity and increased bandwidth in edge deployments.

To assist in remote working strategies, businesses will look to leverage public, private and hybrid cloud services from major providers, so we’re likely to see a huge increase in cloud deployments. Smaller data centres will also be distributed to support increased use of cloud services in physical locations. The uptake of cloud-based operations will facilitate the maturation and more robust network management of the growing Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) market, as well as the explosion in IoT devices. The growth of IoT will transform into IoE (Internet of Everything), as we’ll start to see a huge increase in new consumer devices and experiences such as AI-powered cameras and self-operating machines.

Security & automation

While equipment and digital assets have long been protected with physical security measures, the move towards working from home will mean additional layers of virtual security will be needed to protect remote workers, such as intellectual property and double factor authentication measures, along with defences against cyber-attacks.

SD-WAN will benefit from implementation with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to provide scalable security controls for remote workers, and smart out-of-band management systems such as Opengear’s solution will help mitigate security risks. Improvements in security will also increase uptake of blockchain technology, with more industries looking to adopt this solution.

Integration of automated processes will help to improve efficiencies, speed of processes and business agility. Leveraging automation will enable businesses to balance and secure the increase in remote connections and augment local IT staff for service recovery and daily routine tasks. At the core of this automation will be the need to enhance resilience across operations, enabling organisations to be ready for any external factors that may affect them in future.

The pandemic has already shown how important it is for businesses to have resilient practices in place, and utilising management software such as Opengear’s Lighthouse will give clear visibility across an organisation’s network resilience platform. Investment in resilience will also support the growth of remote management, which is increasingly becoming a requirement for businesses to remain competitive, such as the need to scale reliable VPN services for effective home working.

Considerations for management

For sales engineers, digital selling will be a key avenue for meeting targets, with a much-increased reliance on video meetings and presentations to advise and engage their clients and customers, and this trend for virtual meetings is likely to continue into next year. Beyond sales teams, the technology field as a whole has had to adapt to remote meetings and increasingly rely on VPN access and secure portals to complete tasks, and a responsibility will sit with management teams to ensure that employees can leverage the technology available to them to work effectively from remote locations.

About the Author

Alan Stewart-Brown is VP of EMEA at Opengear. Opengear delivers secure, resilient access and automation to critical IT infrastructure, even when the network is down. Provisioning, orchestration and remote management of network devices, through innovative software and appliances, enables technical staff to manage their data centers and remote network locations reliably and efficiently.

Featured image: ©Tam