As we enter 2023, the events of the last couple of years have left their mark with staffing shortages, inflationary pressures, supply chain disruption, and geo-political unrest. These dynamics have accelerated or even forced business transition and, in some cases, caused a rethinking of fundamental business models. The network now plays an even stronger role, powering the transformation journey that’s needed to thrive during uncertainty and preparing organizations for what comes next in 2023. (You can also register for the webinar where we’ll cover these topics more in depth.)

By the end of 2023, 20% of organizations will have adopted a NaaS strategy.

With tightening economic conditions, IT requires flexibility in how network infrastructure is acquired, deployed, and operated to enable network teams to deliver business outcomes rather than just manage devices. Migrating to a network-as-a-service (NaaS) framework enables IT to accelerate network modernization yet stay within budget, IT resources, and schedule constraints. In addition, adopting a NaaS strategy will help organizations meet sustainability objectives because leading NaaS suppliers have adopted carbon-neutral and recycling manufacturing strategies.

Built-in security will replace bolt-on.

Reducing cybersecurity risk has become a core operational concern. Transformation to a more automated security architecture is an IT imperative. Organizations can no longer bolt-on perimeter firewalls around the network to protect against threats and vulnerabilities. Security must be built-in to every aspect of the network infrastructure, from Wi-Fi access points to LAN, campus and data center switches, WAN gateways, and extending into the cloud. Zero Trust and SASE frameworks will become more intertwined, not only to protect from threats but to apply micro-segmentation across the complete IT stack, including users, connected devices, applications, network services, compute, and storage platforms.

Location services will enable new business models and greater efficiency.

Challenging skilled labor markets and recurring supply chain issues will force companies to become more efficient, productive, and resourceful. Pivoting towards achieving situational awareness of assets, inventories, work in process, workers, customers, contractors, and supply chains will enable better control of costs, resources, quality, and intellectual property. This will require merging information technology (IT), Internet of Things (IoT), and operational technology (OT) data with contextual information about the environment. A new focus will be placed on obtaining the accurate location of work activity and assets, the identity of people and machines, the real-time applications being used and by whom or what, and the security posture of every device and machine.

IT will consolidate operations onto a single, centralized network and security management platform.

More diverse digital technology is being deployed by enterprises to improve user experiences and to streamline IT operations. At the same time, employees and customers expect a better integrated real life/digital experience, regardless of the enterprise business model. These dynamics have added complexity to both network and security and have made managing the infrastructure more complex. With an intensified focus on end user quality of experience while increasing protection from cyberattacks, IT will look to a single centralized management system, with visibility across the network and the ability to configure edge to cloud QoS and security policies.

SLA measurements will be based on user experience, not box uptime and link availability.

IT must optimize their networks to meet hybrid working requirements. Businesses will have dedicated teams whose priority is to ensure a seamless end user digital experience for employees and customers. Adapting to a client-based view, rather than a network view, requires complete end-to-end visibility and application-level insights to ensure the quality of experience meets end user expectations. Tight control of network performance is no longer sufficient. Being able to identify and troubleshoot application response time and performance issues rapidly and remotely will be essential to ensure a seamless end user digital experience, no matter from where users connect.

AIOps will shift from primarily offering insights to delivering automated remediation.

With AI, cloud adoption, and access to vast amounts of data now common in enterprise-class network management solutions, automation takes center stage. Identifying the clustering of similar error symptoms across a full-stack network is leading to orchestrated workflows that will more readily give IT organizations the option to allow solutions to automatically remediate an issue. The need to streamline IT efficiency and do more with less is driving human-assisted workflows, which will enable administrators to examine recommended changes and their impact, and then enable remediation of on-going occurrences into production.

Register for our webinar to hear my predictions for the year ahead that will help enterprises problem-solve and accelerate transformation at the network edge.

I’m looking forward to what 2023 brings!