With remote working becoming the new normal over the last year, companies have experienced a complete restructuring of their business operations, from how deadlines are met and meetings are held to how clients receive their deliverables. This transition has also proven to become an opportunity for more cyberattacks, with Palo Alto Networks citing ransomware payments climbing by 82% in the first half of 2021.
Consequently, companies are now looking to strengthen their security methods by reinforcing newly developed security and network strategies to create a safe workplace from the danger of cyberattacks. This article will dive deep into these network management trends and how you should expect to see them develop over the next year.
1. SASE (secure access service edge)
Over the last year, the mass transition to SASE gave users access to cloud services to remote staff not hosted on the company’s internal network. In addition, the model allows for network managers to apply their company’s security protocols directly onto SaaS applications used by their employees, allowing for greater security while solving pressing bandwidth issues caused by the initial move to remote work.
SASE is a relatively new resource in the network manager’s toolbox; however, it has quickly become a mainstay of the workforce moving into the 2020s. Gartner predicts that at least 60% of enterprises will move towards a SASE-based model by 2025. As the workforce becomes increasingly remote, we expect these edge-oriented frameworks will become an integral part of the “new normal” paradigm shift.
SASE is essentially security and networking delivered via the cloud, which is ideal for accommodating modern distributed workforces. To learn more, this in-depth article explores specific use cases of SASE architecture.
2. SD-WAN technologies
Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is not a new technology. Still, since the move towards remote work over the last year, it has become the standard for remote workers accessing their company’s network. This boost in popularity is mainly due to the structural emphasis on using software to access software, allowing remote users to access company-wide area networks (WAN) using only software-based entry points. Markets and Markets predicts the industry will grow to $8.4 billion in 2025, representing a 34.5% compound annual growth rate over five years.
For example, staff working at home no longer need company-issued laptops in order to access their critical applications. SD-WAN similarly revolutionizes the hiring process for companies, eliminating the need to deliver company hardware to an employee so they can begin work. Because of their inherent adaptability, SD-WAN systems constitute a significant boon for companies switching to remote models.
As the next evolution of networking expands and transforms, we expect to see a new level of customizability to remote connections through composable networks, which use modular network components to streamline their business via shared services.
3. Zero trust architecture
It’s no secret that cyberattacks have increased over the last year, taking advantage of security systems that traditionally had not focused on such a software-based model. In response, network management trends have increasingly moved away from the traditional “castle & moat” model used by companies in the past and towards security systems that no longer assume that devices within their network are trustworthy. These models insist that users always verify their credentials to access a company’s SaaS applications.
The advent of these “zero trust” networks has dominated the security industry in recent years and offers various benefits not previously available for remote work. Forbes cites that, when followed correctly, zero trust systems provide:
- Microsegmentation: Installation of multiple security checkpoints to access applications
- Universal Enforcement: Integration with unsupported applications
- Identity & Access Management (IAM): Enforcement of application-level network rules
- Visibility & Automation: Granular logs and orchestration tools to search for anomalies and suspicious activity
The article also notes that problems within the zero trust architecture exist primarily on the human level, citing that “organizations do not rely on zero trust data solutions” even when the programs are installed. This means that the next generation of zero trust models will have to adequately grapple with their front end, encouraging employees to use them by making them more user-friendly. For more information, we recommend looking at this primer on critical knowledge to implement zero trust policies successfully.
4. Automation & A.I.
The shift to remote work has put a considerable strain on network managers due to the vast increase in connection points it has created. In the past, network managers had to manually dig through each point’s log to track instances of signing into a network, using an application, sending a file, etc. These procedures are often tedious and consume a great deal of time and energy that would otherwise be spent tackling more specific problems.
New network management trends regulate these granular protocols to automated procedures, which scan for user credentials and other significant information (device, location, application, time, metadata, etc.). These automated systems free up network managers and their teams to handle more focused issues requiring specialized knowledge and skill. In the coming years, we expect to see an even bigger focus on automation with the development of AI programs that will handle even larger workloads.
A full-blown AI security system is still a ways off. However, the new emphasis on active data management is likely to become the industry standard. Gartner predicts that automation technologies will help lower operational costs by as much as 30% by 2024. As a result, we expect a greater emphasis on automation and AI to manage enterprise networks more effectively in the coming years.
Want more information on how to apply automation principles to your network? Consider this 5-step checklist for network automation.
Implementing network management trends for your enterprise
Two of the modern workforce’s most significant challenges are the increasingly permanent move to remote work and the resulting rise in cybercrime. The introduction of software and protocols like SASE, SD-WAN, and zero trust makes this transition user-friendly for employees and secure for companies.
By capitalizing on these network management trends now, you will ensure that your business will be in the best possible position to reap the benefits as these features update. ZPE Systems Nodegrid is a software/hardware collection utilizing a top-of-the-line SASE model, SD-Wan connections, and a Zero Trust Security Architecture.