By Todd Rychecky, VP of Americas at Opengear
2020 was a turbulent year for network management and security – ranging from an unprecedented influx of remote work from home network traffic to massive cyber-breaches across US government networks. And 2021 promises to be just as challenging for network managers, meaning organizations will need to step up their approach to network resilience.
To help organizations meet the challenges of 2021 and beyond, here are five predictions on network management and security to help businesses build more resilient infrastructures that will protect them for years to come.
1. 2021 will be the year of network resilience
The business world will never go back to the pre-COVID-19 norm. For instance, it’s clear that many businesses and employees will continue to work remotely indefinitely into the future, and network management must keep apace.
In 2020, many technology managers and C-level executives had to take hurried measures like rapidly scaling remote VPN services during the pandemic to keep operations going. But in 2021, enterprises will be much more the wiser and will be looking to plan their budgets for future trends and crises ahead. This will continue to drive large investments in network resilience solutions that can monitor, remediate and configure equipment from any location.
Even before the pandemic hit full force, a 2020 Opengear survey found two-fifths of US businesses pay more than $1M annually because of outages. As technology evolves and network infrastructure becomes more geographically dispersed, we will likely see these costs of truck rolls and network disruptions rise if organizations fail to adjust their strategies to remotely prevent and recover from outages.
2. A new virtual security paradigm for remote access will be needed
IT departments have historically relied on location-based, physical security measures to protect certain equipment and digital assets. An example may be a secure floor in an office. However, as remote access and work from home have ramped up, so has the need to add additional layers of virtual security. For instance, protecting intellectual property is challenging when users download files on personal laptops.
With ever-expanding security layers, a more robust management layer will become a necessity. This may include using an out-of-band connection to decouple network management from the primary production network processing hacker-prone user traffic or implementing new security rules and gating mechanisms to protect data being accessed remotely.
3. Secure, remote deployments will be critical to expansion in 2021
Though lockdowns, cost restrictions, or other factors may make it either impractical or impossible to get engineers onsite, expansion and upgrades will still be needed. For instance, organizations will still need to orchestrate new edge and data center deployments or cloud migrations to future-proof their infrastructure.
Managing new deployments and migrations will require tools for secure, remote deployments, like TPM chips that prevent hardware tampering and zero-touch provisioning capabilities. Organizations will also need tools to re-provision equipment remotely. For instance, new virtualized network functions may require more complex software stacks that need more troubleshooting or updates.
4. Smaller, distributed data centers will necessitate efficiency via network automation
The rapidly expanding IoT market will drive the deployment of distributed, smaller data centers to support greater localized processing. These more geographically disparate, edge-heavy networks will need smarter, more efficient network management tools. This need for efficiency will undoubtedly drive a hyper-automation mentality, dictating that everything that can be automated should be.
Migrating from command line interface to NetOps automation will be vital to remain competitive and prepared for the future. In 2021, there will be an influx of increasingly must-have, smart AI-powered tools for self-healing and management functions, threat identification and recovery, low latency remote monitoring and provisioning, and much more.
5. Blockchain goes mainstream (but not without challenges):
2021 will be the comeback year for blockchain. We will see growing adoption and new implementations across industries – ranging from entertainment services to healthcare. And with major organizations adopting cryptocurrency, like PayPal, this trend will only speed up.
Of course, this new disruption will require robust and resilient networks. Though the decentralized nature of blockchain provides many benefits, the tech is still dependent on networks and could pose entirely new security threats to those who have adopted this new technology. For instance, some store their crypto funds in a hot wallet, which is connected to the Internet and can be vulnerable to hacks on a third-party server.
As blockchain-based applications quickly rise to prominence, they may present tempting targets to hackers seeking to capitalize on unprepared and less resilient infrastructure. Tools, like smart out-of-band management, failover to cellular and NetOps automation will be essential to preventing outages and possible large-scale data breaches.
2021 is here, plan for 2022 and beyond
2020 shook the foundation of countless businesses, and we are still feeling those disruptions at the start of 2021. While there is no telling what exactly is to come, there are many steps that can be taken now to prepare highly resilient networks capable of serving wider, more dispersed areas.
Those who prepare their networks to handle the trends above, may not just set themselves up for 2021 success but can also build a sound network management framework for 2022 and beyond. And it’s never too early to future proof, right?
About Todd Rychecky
Todd Rychecky is VP of Americas for Opengear, responsible for developing and executing sales strategies, business development initiatives, hiring and developing an award-winning sales team. For 13 consecutive years, Rychecky and his Opengear Sales teams have experienced year over year sales growth. He joined the company in 2008 and was the first sales and marketing hire, helping kick start Opengear. He has a wide range of experiences including sales, marketing, channel development, strategic accounts, OEM partnerships, and business development initiatives. His main focus today is on growing the sales teams, partner channels, and strategic accounts. Rychecky earned a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University.