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Juniper Networks 2021 Predictions: Four Trends that Will Shape Networks in the Year Ahead

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

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

Four Trends that Will Shape Networks in the Year Ahead

By Sally Bament, Vice President of Cloud & Service Provider Marketing at Juniper Networks

The COVID-19 pandemic placed a huge responsibility on service providers around the globe to deliver not just connectivity, but also a seamless service experience to subscribers as traffic patterns shifted and hit peak levels. With recent studies showing that the number of employees permanently working at home across the globe is expected to double in 2021, service providers will need to prepare networks for more prolonged traffic shifts that will become the norm for longer-term remote workers.

Delivering a seamless and assured service experience that supports the workforce of the future - whatever it may look like - is essential for service providers next year and beyond. Here are a few key trends we will see take shape as COVID continues to make an impact.

COVID aims the spotlight on preparing networks for the unknown

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted our world from physical to virtual literally overnight, placing enormous responsibility on service providers to deliver seamless real-time and near real-time experiences at peak traffic levels. Traffic patterns shifted from mobility to Wi-Fi and broadband networks, as work transitioned to the home and the lines between consumers and enterprise users blurred - causing long-term changes in how service providers architect and manage their networks for the "enterprise-at-home." Next year, we will see more focus on ensuring networks are ready for the "unknowns," with service providers accelerating investments in open, agile network architectures built on cloud principles, elastic on-demand capacities, and automation and security for an assured service experience. And with a heightened focus on service experience, we can expect automation, service assurance, AI/ML and orchestration technologies to take on an even more significant role in service provider network operations, guaranteeing service quality and simplifying operations as networks get bigger, more dynamic and more complex.

COVID accelerates the value of the edge

Networks have never been more critical than they are right now. Business, education, telemedicine, social, all have moved from engaging in person to engaging virtually, and multi-participant video calls have become a fundamental part of our daily lives. Massive consumption of streaming media and an all-time high in online gaming have driven CDN growth. Service providers have responded fast to manage the surge in traffic while avoiding lagging, downgraded quality and slower speeds. Next year, we'll see service providers double down on investments in edge cloud, moving applications and data closer to users and connected devices to enhance the user and application experience, support new emerging low-latency applications, and make more efficient use of network transit capacity.

COVID drives network security

While security has often taken a back seat to make way for faster network speeds, the pandemic has proven that bad actors will take advantage of crises for their own gain. Next year, we'll see service providers take a holistic, end-to-end security approach that combines network, application and end-user security to deliver a secure and assured service experience. This is especially important as many regions experience another wave of lockdowns and working at home becomes the new normal - presenting an enticing attack surface for hackers. In 2021, we'll see companies investing more in Enterprise-at-Home solutions with security at the forefront, ensuring that all endpoints in the network are secure, wherever they are.

5G hype fades as monetization opportunities skyrocket

Despite the pandemic shifting operational priorities, causing some 5G roll outs to slow, service providers have still been heavily investing in and deploying 5G networks. With over 100 commercial networks launched across the globe, and many more expected in 2021, 5G is now real, bringing new monetization opportunities for operators. With massive speeds, huge connection densities and ultra-low-latency experiences, we expect to see progress in new consumer applications (e.g., gaming, AR/VR/MR), 5G for industry verticals, consumer broadband with content bundling, enterprise broadband and cloud-managed services and fixed wireless access services in 2021.

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About the Author

Sally Bament 

Sally Bament, vice president of cloud & service provider marketing at Juniper Networks, is responsible for leading and executing the company's marketing plans to drive awareness and demand for Juniper's industry-leading networking solutions. Sally brings more than 25 years of experience in management, program management, marketing, sales and business development in the networking and telecommunications industries.

Published Thursday, December 31, 2020 7:29 AM by David Marshall
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