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ThousandEyes 2021 Predictions: Six Technology Trends in 2021 to Manage IT Internet Reliance

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Six Technology Trends in 2021 to Manage IT Internet Reliance

By Angelique Medina, Director, ThousandEyes

The rapid adoption of digital solutions has been years in the making as organizations are constantly looking to improve the way they go to market, innovate, and connect with their customers. But in a year like 2020, when the disruption to the traditional IT ecosystem has been further compounded by remote work and digitization of everyday activities due to social distancing efforts, the adoption rate has occurred at warp speed.

As enterprises shift budgets toward the adoption of cloud services, SaaS applications and software-defined networks, IT teams are faced with managing a complex ecosystem of services, networks, and providers that sit beyond their corporate perimeters. Tying this distributed ecosystem together is the public Internet. But the Internet was never built to be a business-class network and its inherent vulnerabilities pose a risk both to the company brand and bottom line. In March, as companies began adjusting to remote business, Internet disruptions saw an unprecedented rise, increasing more than 60% as compared to January. Adapting to this new level of Internet reliance and the vulnerability it introduces is inevitable and there are six trends I see taking form as we move into 2021 and beyond.

Internet Dependence Sends IT Back to School

2020 made us all critically reliant on Internet connectivity and for enterprises navigating the risks of outages, many learned the hard way that the Internet is a best effort network made up of thousands of distinct providers, operating on the honor system when it comes to routing integrity. This past year saw significant Internet disruptions, including several caused by BGP hijacking. Although the biggest outage this year (which took down a good chunk of global traffic) wasn't caused by a BGP hijack, it led to service provider CenturyLink/Level 3 accidentally hijacking its customers' routes, causing widespread disruption. In 2021, we'll see Internet literacy become a hot commodity skill for IT practitioners so businesses can quickly identify and address issues in external networks that are beyond their direct control and reduce the risks of downtime.

SD-WAN Gets Promoted to the Home Office

In 2021, as remote employees become a permanent fixture alongside (fewer) branch offices,  more SD-WAN technology options will be rolled out for the home office. Security functionality has been a recent top priority for SD-WAN vendors, but we'll see a shift in gears as vendors become increasingly pressured to provide solutions that are scalable enough to deploy in every employee's home office environment. Rather than solely relying on VPNs to backhaul or split-tunnel traffic, enterprises will start to adopt centralized solutions to manage and enforce policies that route employee Internet traffic securely, with optimal performance.

FAANG will continue to sink its teeth into the Internet

This year, major software companies like Facebook, AWS and Google continued to make significant investments in Internet infrastructure projects including subsea cables like 2Africa and Grace Hopper. In 2021 and beyond, as online connectivity remains crucial to power consumer services and employee solutions, hyperscalers will expand into the role of connectivity leaders as they seek to provide better access to their services, which are increasingly powering much of the world's global online ecosystem.

API Monitoring Cleans House

Demand for touchless features like voice-controlled activation and contactless payments skyrocketed in 2020. This type of functionality will only accelerate in the months to come, requiring extended visibility into the backend systems that power these new embedded applications and the API integrations that run them. IoT and "smart device" application performance becomes contingent on third-party API reachability and performance over the Internet and cloud provider networks. In 2021, end-to-end monitoring capabilities, from backend to frontend, will become increasingly critical as touchless solutions become crucial in our everyday lives.

Hyperscalers Hang ‘For Rent' Signs on their Networks

2020 has dramatically reaffirmed the role of the Internet as the lifeblood of many organizations' operations. But the Internet is a complicated web of independent and interconnected service providers, any of which can impact the experience of users connecting to an application or site. As an alternative option and means of expanding monetization efforts, cloud providers and content delivery network (CDN) providers have been offering access to their private backbones with the promise of greater reliability and performance - for a fee. As uninterrupted digital experience continues to become critical to businesses, 2021 will see a growth in the number of companies that seek to avoid the vulnerabilities of the public Internet by paying for their own "private Internet."

With the adoption of each new XaaS, collaboration across IT silos will increase

Cloud-based services are ubiquitous and with each new as-a-service solution, collaboration between traditionally-siloed IT teams will increase, as enterprises seek to maintain control of their digital experience. Migrating apps and services to the cloud means taking on a complex set of external, interdependent services - requiring a new level of actual human collaboration, be it network engineers, app developers or security experts, to operate and manage them. Given that IT teams must operate in a highly collaborative way across functions, 2021 will see increased use of solutions that can serve as a common operating language across different IT domains. Monitoring technologies with cross-stack observability across external services will become part of the critical IT toolset, helping enterprise teams, and even external providers, quickly get on the same page to optimize and troubleshoot faster.


About the Author


Angelique Medina is a Director of Product Marketing at ThousandEyes, where she reports on the performance of all things Internet related, from BGP routing and outages to edge and cloud-based services. She has more than a decade of experience in the networking industry.

Published Thursday, December 17, 2020 7:49 AM by David Marshall
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