The future is bright

An abstract image of a magnifying glass over a digital cloud.
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Illus_man)

2020 has been a monumental year in shifting the way businesses operate. With a complete change in day-to-day business operations, businesses who did not previously embrace cloud, mobility, and new digital technologies were forced to quickly adopt new strategies to survive. Concurrently, business agility has become almost synonymous with digital transformation—that is, the process of employing new technologies to modernize or even revolutionize how a company does business—because new methods of working and network infrastructure prove just as, if not more, efficient than traditional methods.  In 2021 businesses will increase investment in digital initiatives to drive business agility, improve productivity, and increase revenue.  These are five important trends that you should make sure you are ahead of for 2021.

1. SASE adoption increases 100X

As the most comprehensive networking and security trend to hit the world of cybersecurity for Enterprises in the last two decades, Security Access Service Edge (SASE) is primed to become an essential IT framework for bringing together networking and security for organizations looking for consistency, flexibility, and high-performance. Unlike Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), SASE which goes beyond simply software defining the network perimeter enables organizations to deliver uniform and ubiquitous security, networking, and business policies to every user, application, and device consistently via the cloud or on-premises.

In 2021 SASE becomes an essential strategic initiative, design approach, and implementation standard for Enterprise network and network security deployments around the globe. Users can seamlessly access all their provisioned cloud and on-premises applications anytime from anywhere with a well-architected SASE solution. After completing extensive due diligence, organizations will adopt SASE solutions delivered through a fully integrated single software stack that does not rely on service chaining or connecting multiple functions or services together.  Businesses who use a single, integrated SASE software solution will see consistent policy implementation, granular visibility and control, reduced attack surfaces, dramatically lower latency, and unprecedented application performance.  SASE will see an astronomical 100X increase in adoption in 2021 because of its benefits, integration, and ease of implementation.

2. The cloud explodes

Cloud adoption has been steadily growing over the last decade.  2020 was one of the biggest tests of the cloud and became a bright spot for those businesses operating with a cloud-first imperative reaping the lion's share of the rewards.  Organizations were able to scale and adapt their business models by leveraging the cloud because they leveraged the multitude of choices for SaaS applications, hosting alternatives, and high-speed cloud backbones for public cloud application hosting.

Organizations have been redefining their application, hosting, and IT strategies in 2020 to become cloud native which will continue into 2021 and result in an explosive shift to the cloud.  New businesses will be born, existing cloud-first organizations will accelerate, and those who continue to ignore the shift will be left behind in 2021.

3. 50 percent of employees continue to work-from-home

If 2020 has proved anything, it is that Work-from-Home (WFH) is a trend that is here to stay. Businesses who have operated seamlessly, efficiently, and profitably using the transition to a WFH model with their employees realize that this way of doing business can be a permanent option. Large organizations like Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Twitter have already announced that they are now allowing employees to work from home for the long term or even permanently. In 2021, more companies will follow suit with the direction of allowing employees the option to work from home.   This forced experiment has shown that productivity can be maintained or even increased, collaboration can continue or improve, and establishing and measuring metrics is possible with remote employees. 

With Work-from-Home becoming a mainstay, employees will continue to need seamless Voice over IP (VoIP), Unified Communications, collaboration, and video applications while enabling cloud and on-premise security and performance. In addition: business critical applications hosted in the cloud or on-premise, together with SaaS application such as Salesforce and Office365, must have proper security policies that are enforced uniformly so that sensitive data is not leaked into the wrong hands. Businesses will need to continue to invest in WFH solutions that can efficiently connect distributed users with distributed applications without compromising on security or user experience.  By the end of 2021 50 percent of employees will continue to work from home for a portion of time or permanently.  By the end of 2021 businesses will begin to see tangible financial benefits resulting from competitive wages and lower office expenses.

4. Unified communications usage continues to rise

In 2020 video collaboration and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) have been the expected forms of communication for one on one and group meetings.  As more employees Go-To-Office (GTO) and others continue to work from home, video collaboration will become the DeFacto standard for meetings inside and outside of the office.  In 2021, UCaaS will continue to be a driving factor network transformation because these services are delivered to business offices and homes via the Internet which is a best effort network. 

There is a need to prioritize this traffic by type and provide mitigation for packet loss, jitter, and delay using error-correcting technologies, dynamic jitter buffering, and link steering mechanisms that deliver a better user experience.  Secure SD-WAN creates an expectational experience for video, VoIP, and UCaaS while steering this traffic over the highest capacity, lowest latency link for superior performance.  The availability of technologies such as Secure SD-WAN will drive increases in UCaaS in corporate conference rooms and homes.

5. 5G demands boosted in security

In 2021, many industries will be ideally situated to roll out the new wave of fifth generation (5G) mobile-network technology. With 5G technology comes several advances including peak speeds up to 10 Gbps combined with ultra-low latency connectivity and a new wave of opportunities around Smart Manufacturing, Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (AR/VR), IOT, Next-Gen Analytics, connected devices and gaming will appear. These new opportunities come with challenges around security, connectivity to existing infrastructure, and ensuring that SLAs are met which will be exacerbated by the increase in the number of connected devices, locations, and data sources. 

With the adoption of 5G, businesses will rely heavily on technologies such as Secure SD-WAN and SASE to be application aware, deliver inherent security, and become transport agnostic. By doing so, businesses blend their traditional network solutions with their mobile solutions. Secure SD-WAN will simplify management across this expanding 5G footprint, boost security and reliability across on-premise, cloud and the edge, provide flexible network topologies with a fully distributed architecture across the cloud and edge, and leverage application aware routing and intelligent traffic steering. Ultimately, a secure 5G network will provide end-to-end visibility into an application and deliver security and network insights for an organization’s mission to digitally transform their mobile-network infrastructure.

Michael Wood, CMO, Versa Networks

Michael Wood is CMO at Versa Networks.