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Opengear 2021 Predictions: The Future of Network Management

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

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

The Future of Network Management

By Todd Rychecky, VP of Americas at Opengear

2020 was a wild year for network management, to say the least. We saw a massive uptick in work from home and remote traffic, major disruptions from the biggest cloud players, and an increasing number and greater sophistication of cyber security threats, just to name a few of the unexpected twists and turns. And 2021 promises to be just as fast and hard hitting, meaning businesses will need to make sure they're prepared to withstand new challenges with a network resilience strategy in place.

To help organizations plan for 2021, here are five predictions on the future of network management that could help businesses not only survive, but also actively prep to improve their network and virtualized environments for the future.

Cloud gets bigger and more distributed, data centers get smaller

As cloud adoption rises, so will the infrastructure and scalability requirements of cloud providers, as well as the organizations who rely them. An explosion of IoT devices and microservices will drive adoption of rapidly deployable, smaller data centers to support distributed cloud use, where cloud services are distributed to different physical locations over the cloud.

While this model will reduce latency via more infrastructure for localized processing power, it will also require a robust network to support geographically dispersed endpoints. A 2020 Opengear survey found that two-fifths of US businesses lose more than $1M annually to outages. As network infrastructure evolves and becomes more geographically dispersed, we will likely see these costs of network disruptions rise if organizations fail to adjust their strategies to prevent and recover from outages.

The growing SD-WAN market will require more robust network management

Network refresh and upgrade programs will continue, which means an increase in the deployment of SD-WAN, SDN and virtualization technologies. While this will provide many benefits, like more secure connections and optimized web traffic routes, these technologies will be relatively new to many teams, especially for those who are deploying them for the first time.  

Managing SD-WAN and other virtual networking tools will require secure remote access and automated functions to manage more points of failure. For many operations teams, this will mean managing SD-WAN routers and virtual network functions on an out-of-band connection, which will provide a failproof method of monitoring and provisioning multiple software stacks and points of failure.

As the SD-WAN market matures, the 2021 focus for many will also be on increasing SD-WAN security with SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) to combine SD-WAN and security controls into a cloud-based offering that can be quickly scaled up or down as needed for remote workers. Those who lay the groundwork for establishing a more resilient network will be better equipped to shift toward this trend.

Networks will get smart, or fail as the hyper automation age begins

Edge-heavy networks will become more dispersed, and will require smarter tools to manage everything, driving a do-or-die ethos where anything that can be automated should be. Shifting from command line interface to NetOps automation will be mission critical to sustaining any operation.

In 2021, advanced and smart AI-powered tools for self-management and healing functions, low latency remote monitoring and provisioning, threat identification and recovery, and more will become a necessity. Those who don't embrace such tools face the large possibility of being left behind in the marketplace.

Remote management is no longer an option, it's a must

In a trend that has been growing for years, and was expedited by the pandemic, remote network management is fast becoming a mainstay of our increasingly connected and automated world. CIOs, who have had to perform actions like scrambling to scale remote VPN services in the pandemic, will budget for solutions to prepare for future crises and trends.

The push to remote management will drive a huge investment in network resilience solutions to monitor, remediate and set-up equipment from anywhere. It will also bring new security paradigms for IT departments, who have often relied on location-based physical security measures in the past, making a robust network management layer more important than ever before.

2021 will be the year of secure, remote deployments

Last but not least, while many engineers won't be able to travel or get onsite, new cloud migrations and data center and edge deployments will still be necessary for organizations to remain competitive and win in the marketplace.

Updates and migrations will require optimal tools for secure, remote deployments, like zero touch provisioning and TPM chips to prevent hardware tampering, as well as tools for re-provisioning should something like a software stack running virtualized network functions need updates or troubleshooting.

Plan ahead, don't react

There's one old adage that always seems to prove true when managing a network: the only thing constant is change, and as 2020 showed, change can often come sudden and unexpectedly for those who are not prepared. This doesn't have to be the case again in 2021. So, if you haven't started planning your network resilience strategy for 2021 yet, why wait?


About the Author

Todd Ryechecky 

Todd Rychecky is VP of Americas for Opengear, responsible for developing and executing sales strategies, multiple business initiatives, hiring and talent development, setting performance goals and growing the business. 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 with sales, marketing, product marketing, and business development initiatives. His main focus is on growing the sales teams, partner channels, and strategic accounts. Rychecky earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Published Friday, January 22, 2021 7:56 AM by David Marshall
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