With 2020 behind us, the promise of 2021 is still fresh for many. While it still remains to be seen how the first few months of the year will play out, most businesses are looking to prepare for the year ahead. For CIOs one of the more important aspects to look into is networking, and to that end Aruba South Africa country manager Mandy Duncan (pictured below), has offered up some insights for 2021 in particular.
“Organizations have come to recognize the importance that networking, and more broadly, the IT function can have on the business, including how fast change can be implemented, even under such stressful circumstances,” Duncan reflects.
“As we begin the new year, with the coronavirus continuing its grip on the globe, organizations have to take the experiences and learnings from the previous year and apply them to their IT strategies if they are to find success,” she advises.
The first trend looks at the workforce, and the fact that the hybrid model will remain in place throughout the year, despite steps being taken to secure much-needed vaccines. Here, Duncan says that CIOs should develop strategies where a permanent state of hybrid working is in place, provisioning the necessary resources in that regard.
“To facilitate these changes, organizations are now thinking about lessons learned from the pandemic to make networking, security, and overall IT programs more flexible and dynamic. IT has an important role to play in pushing forward ambitious forms of digital transformation, even accelerating existing planned transitions, emboldened with how the workforce has adapted to what has become known as the ‘new normal’,” she notes.
Looking at things from an Aruba perspective, Duncan highlights the fact that cloud and edge computing growth have brought with a myriad security implications. To that end a more cognisant view of security as a key part of the network architecture needs to taken.
“Previously, security experts essentially started with a policy and then designed a network topology that in turn satisfied policy. That dynamic is drastically changing. Networking solutions have evolved to offer significant degrees of separation, where policy gets programmed only when and where it is needed,” Duncan points out.
“We predict that Zero Trust network architecture solutions will remain a core piece of effective security with traditional IT workloads moving out of the Edge into either the cloud or SaaS environment. The vacuum left behind will eventually be replaced by OT/IoT specific workloads at the Edge,” adds the country manager.
Taking a longer view of things, she also explains that CIOs need to consider end-user experience too. This as improved employee productivity is tied to the profitability of the business.
“Instead of asking just what kind of devices are connecting to the network, they (CIOs) will also be required to focus on maintaining flexibility and agility while minimizing risk. By applying the appropriate security measures, CIOs can better facilitate this increasingly dynamic IT environment,” says Duncan.
“Ultimately, CIOs will want insights beyond the network itself and into availability and performance applications that the users and business leaders care about. They will not be as interested in how esoteric aspects of the network are performing, but rather, will be more concerned about whether a specific user had a poor Zoom experience,” she continues.
The last element that the Aruba exec points to is network automation, especially as it pertains to the edge. Already Duncan is seeing automation take hold in the data centre environment, but the edge proves a bit more chaotic to handle, which is why AI and machine learning technologies can be used to predict and react with greater effectiveness.
She cites a recent Aruba survey comprising of 2 400 IT decision makers across the globe, where 35 percent planned to increase their investment in in AI-based networking.
“We predict that the maturity of deployed solutions that provide this learning component of automation at the Edge will improve significantly in 2021. Expect to see significant progress in combining these with APIs and other automation tools that will deliver on the promised efficiencies and insights that IT leaders crave,” Duncan concludes.