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Spirent Communications 2023 Predictions: Reading the Network Technology Tea Leaves for 2023


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

Reading the Network Technology Tea Leaves for 2023

By Marc Cohn, Principal Technology Strategist, Spirent Communications

When it comes to technology trends, everyone likes to speculate about the future. But some predictions carry more weight than others-especially when they come from the people developing the technologies in question. As one of the world's leading test and network assurance companies, we work with leading Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and solution vendors driving the future of enterprise connectivity. As a result, we enable network and security innovations maturing through early trials, refinements, and eventually, into scalable, market-ready solutions. Based on our unique perspective as a neutral expert, here are some of the key network and security trends we see emerging in 2023.

Enterprise Network Security Evolves

Network security continues to be shaped by the sweeping changes that COVID-19 imposes on enterprise workforces. In 2023, the greatest need is to connect all workers-working from home, the office, or anywhere. in a cloud-connected world. Along those lines:

  • SD-WAN providers will evolve into cloud-based network security providers. Analysts and vendors have been advocating an updated network security model that combines Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) connectivity with cloud-based security services. Managed Service Providers are increasingly adopting Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), which is better suited to secure the multi-cloud environment than legacy Virtual Private Network (VPN) services. While the market has been buzzing about SASE for a while, 2023 is the year those cloud security offerings reach maturity, and SASE becomes the dominant model for managed security services.
  • Zero Trust network access will see wide-scale adoption. A companion to SASE (already incorporated into many SASE solutions), Zero Trust access frameworks will see significant growth this year. Zero Trust provides user and context-based authentication and identity management, a model well suited to today's distributed enterprise, where notions of a physical security perimeter separating trusted "inside" from untrusted "outside" traffic no longer apply. As workers return to the office this year, enterprises will be confronted by a more diverse mix of on-campus, WFH, and WFA employees. Expect Zero Trust solutions to experience significant growth.

Private Networks Start to Scale

Few technologies have generated more buzz in recent years than private wireless networks. Now that 5G networks are becoming widely available, along with Standalone (SA) operation, and mobile edge computing, Enterprises envision a range of use cases that were previously infeasible. Traditional network equipment providers, communications service providers, global systems integrators, and cloud operators are also rushing to offer Private Network for a range of verticals. Here's what to expect:

  • Private wireless will continue to grow-but not necessarily on 5G. In 2022, there were many private network trials and early deployments; enterprises will adopt private networks in larger numbers in 2023. Many initial deployments, however, use 4G/LTE and early 5G Non-standalone (NSA) technology.

    For 2023, enterprises will deploy Private Networks based on a range of wireless technologies, including WiFi, LTE, and early 5G Standalone (SA) services, which are capable of delivering the high-performance, highly available, security required. Availability of spectrum varies by country, including non-licensed spectrum (e.g., CBRS in the U.S.).
  • Private 5G for industry will grow. Industrial customers have long anticipated the value 5G can provide to support the factory of the future (i.e., Industrial 4.0). Lower latencies, enhanced security, improved power efficiency, and QoS features of 5G New Radios, along mobile edge computing, can enable new applications in robotic automation, massive IoT deployments, and more. Look for early production use cases for industrial 5G to begin appearing towards the end of 2023, as the first wave of 3GPP Release 17-enabled network equipment and devices hits the market.
  • Asia will take the early lead in private networks. For the last several years, China has been the biggest driver of the 5G market, as Chinese operators rushed to expand 5G coverage nationwide. This year, India will take a major leap forward, with two major Indian carriers now racing to achieve nationwide coverage in 2023. Particularly notable, however, is the extent to which private networks will play a role in CSP strategies across both markets. Indian CSPs view private networks as a key component of their long-term strategy to make deeper inroads into the enterprise market. Meanwhile in China, with nationwide coverage largely achieved in 2022, look for operators to shift their focus to emphasize enterprise private networks using public 5G. Chinese CSPs will initially target use cases in logistics and the energy and mining sectors. 
  • 5G/Wi-Fi convergence will start in earnest this year. No one expects private wireless networks to fully displace Wi-Fi for enterprise connectivity. However, CSPs and vendors do envision a future where the technologies complement each other, to introduce new use cases, as well as enhance existing private networks.

    Enterprises are also seeking converged management of 4G/5G and Wi-Fi infrastructures, or at least allow them to more seamlessly coexist. n 2023, look for momentum towards 5G/Wi-Fi convergence to accelerate, as enterprises increase pressure on CSPs and the cellular and Wi-Fi ecosystems to support converged commercial strategies. 

Looking Ahead

Throughout the pandemic, analysts and business leaders wondered how long it would take to get back to normal. However, as we watch our CSP partners and the broader industry roll out new solutions this year, it's clear that enterprises are embracing a new model dominated by the Cloud and Private Networks. In 2023, we'll get to see the "new normal" for network and security start to take shape.




Marc Cohn is the Principal Technology Strategist at Spirent. In this capacity, Marc is responsible for qualifying new opportunities that leverage Spirent’s core competencies in the areas of SD-WAN, SASE, and Telco Cloud. He has also held senior leadership roles in the Open Networking Foundation (SDN), Linux Foundation (OPEN-O and Open Daylight projects), and MEF. Marc spearheaded the establishment of the MEF SD-WAN Certification Program, and is leading MEF's first security certification program.

Published Monday, January 09, 2023 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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