The past 12 months have been challenging, even turbulent, for a lot of businesses. The continued drive towards digitalisation, the promise of emerging technologies and increasing cyber-threats has left many with lots of plates to spin. While I unfortunately can’t promise IT departments an easy year ahead, 2019 holds a lot of opportunity, too, wrties John Morrison, the vice president for EMEA sales and services at Extreme Networks. It will be a balancing act, but for those who get it right, they will set themselves up for success in 2019 and beyond. With this in mind, what are the top network trends for 2019, and what should businesses be aware of to drive growth but remain secure?
Security and IoT management
On average, there is some form of cyberattack every 39 seconds, and by 2021 the expected cost of cybercrime will be US$6 trillion per year, according to Comparitech. As the number of IoT devices increases, so too does the need for organisations to protect and secure business critical data. This means that companies need to strike the right balance between security and gathering important information and insights.
In 2019, businesses will take steps to protect their IoT investments and safeguard confidential company data through even greater investment in IoT security and management tools. Specifically, IT departments will turn to AI and machine learning to do a lot of the heavy lifting. As a further precaution, there will be a focus on the segmentation of applications, devices and networks to mitigate the impact of any data breach.
Automation, machine learning and analytics
Until fairly recently, network operations had been a manual, time consuming process for IT, with changes to the network configuration to support new apps potentially taking weeks. By tapping into the capabilities of automation, processes are being streamlined, meaning that IT can focus on more strategic projects and tasks.
By 2021, more than 25% of network infrastructure services will include autonomous self-managing packages, according to IDC. With automation, businesses can transform processes and workflows. In fact, a critical component of network-wide automation is network fabrics. Fabrics will continue to see widespread use in 2019, to support automation and simplify network operations across the data centre and campus networks. Machine learning technologies will be applied more widely too, going to the next level to provide more effective analytics, taking the guesswork out of network management.
Better networks and better wireless
From laptops to smartphones, to IoT devices and everything in between, connectivity is king and that crown won’t slip in 2019; more specifically, wireless connectivity. With the explosion in the number of IoT devices deployed creating a need for greater capacity, networks have needed to catch up. Enterprise organisations have responded in turn with many planning a move to 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 delivers high efficiency, while also offering capabilities for automation and programmability to streamline network operations. While Wi-Fi 6 is still relatively in its infancy, organisations in 2019 will start to deploy Wi-Fi 6 equipment and solutions, not just to meet demand today, but future-proof against even greater volumes of data in the future too.
Cloud and multi-cloud environments
Cloud and multi-cloud environments have significantly impacted the enterprise network, and they will continue to do so in 2019: in fact, the global cloud computing market is set to exceed US$200 billion this year. As organisations keep working towards their digital transformation goals, hybrid cloud deployments will become more common.
In order to support hybrid cloud deployments, it’s important for organisations to select management and visibility solutions that work across a mix of cloud-managed or on-premise deployments, and ideally those solutions would work across multi-vendor environments to ensure the most efficiencies.
Make your 2019 networking resolutions a reality
There will be a myriad of opportunities for businesses this year to further digitalisation. AI, automation and machine learning will help to streamline network operations, empowering IT to focus on more strategic, transformative projects. Wi-Fi 6 will usher in the next generation of connectivity, delivering consistently high performance across a variety of environments. While 2019 will bring significant advancements in digital transformation, businesses will need to keep a security-first mind-set when looking to implement and benefit from IoT devices across the enterprise. We’re excited for what’s in store for 2019, and are looking forward to the opportunities and challenges this year will bring.