What Will Drive Network Modernization in 2022?

Changes are in store as businesses digitally transform

it professionals programmers engineers developers in a modern workspace by gorodenkoff shutterstock

Networks are vital to digital business, enabling essential operations, providing situational awareness, and delivering strategic insights. As businesses transform, networks must change. But how? What will networks look like in 2022? And how are organizations marshaling their resources to build the networks that will meet tomorrow’s needs?

To answer those questions, IT practitioners, consultants, and influencers joined in an @IDGTechTalk Twitter chat on Dec. 10, 2021, sponsored by @ComcastBusiness. The hour-long session was moderated by IDG social media manager Clare Brown. In addition, the chat was tracked in real-time by IDG content strategist Jim Malone, IDG contributing editor Pete Bartolik, and industry expert Isaac Sacolick, president of StarCIO.

Malone said digital transformation has accelerated dramatically in the wake of the pandemic. “In some cases, three years of change has been compressed into three months. A lot of that has fallen on the shoulders of the network.” Bartolik concurred. “It was a wake-up call for companies that were not as far along as they should have been.”

Chat participants said a top network priority is to meet the needs of the workplace, which was irreversibly changed by the COVID-19 pandemic as workers scattered to home offices.

Remote and hybrid work are the most important objectives I’m seeing/hearing. it’s raising the stakes for end point security, remote access, and zero trust.
Will Kelly @willkelly   
@IDGTechTalk Replying to @willkelly The entire workforce is changing and the enterprise has to keep up. There is no more 'new normal' — it's just normal now!

But more than the remote workforce is in play. Ongoing digital transformation is demanding an evolving network infrastructure, made up of SD-WAN, SDN, cloud migration as well as remote access.

… the software-defined and virtual networking areas are similar to their compute siblings: reducing time-to-value, sync'ing with Agile flows, and enabling infrastructure-as-code.
Chris Petersen @Cpetersen_CS

And industry buzz to the contrary, VPNs will continue to fill an important role, according to a poll of chat participants.

Are VPNs still needed? #idgtechtalk (question via @StevenPrentice)
  • Yes, VPNs are needed. 91.7%
  • No, VPNs aren't needed. 8.3%

However, no business will be able to achieve its mission unless data is protected. To that end, zero-trust cybersecurity is top-of-mind among IT leaders. However, vendor claims deserve skepticism.

Vendors can sell snake-oil products because customers are clueless to their needs. Firms that have detailed architectural documentation w/ needs justifications don’t have that issue, as they know their problem & how exactly they expect product to solve it.
Ben Rothke  @benrothke

Although inevitable in the long term, 5G is unlikely to reach the mainstream in the short term, participants said.

4G will be doing the heavy lifting for the next couple of years. In most rural areas 5G towers aren't slated to go up for years.
Sarah Ramsingh @Sarah Ramsingh

The increase in remote access, the growth of IoT data, and the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) applications are placing new demands on the network edge. Bartolik said companies that respond to this challenge by effectively securing and managing their data will be tomorrow’s market leaders.

To achieve that goal, many companies will require the help of expert partners, according to Sacolick. “We need to go back to our applications and decide how to move data between the edge and the cloud, especially for ML capabilities. We need tools to understand the architecture, costs, and latency considerations. Over the next five to ten years you’ll see a lot of partnering,” he said.

For more information, please view the recent webinar hosted by Comcast Business, “Network Technology Trends for 2022 & Beyond.”


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