October 09, 2020

Networking 2020. What now? What next?

It seems like only yesterday that I was working with customers to help craft their ‘Networking 2020 strategy’. As we crafted those strategies, none of us could have anticipated what would lie ahead, and the critical role that the network would play in keeping the world connected in a time of crisis.

Now that 2020 is well and truly here (and very different than what any of us could have expected), I’d like to share some perspectives on what’s next for the network, both in terms of building for our immediate needs now, and architecting for the future.

Over the last several years, it has become clear that the expansion of applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud has been a pivotal technology shift. However, this shift has primarily been viewed only through the lens of the data-centre and application hosting.

When viewing applications in conjunction with how and where they are being consumed, the implications of the move to the cloud are even more far-reaching. The shifts on the ‘consumption’ side of IT, such as mobility, security, IoT, and 5G have now been accelerated beyond would we could ever have expected. The current crisis has not only tested our plans and our capabilities but has firmly validated the need to extend our capabilities at scale across both hosting and consumption sides of the IT stack.

In the pre-cloud, pre-COVID-19 era, networks were built with an expectation of limited variability across all domains: applications resided in controlled data-centres, accessed over controlled WANs, consumed by known users and devices. Security was perimeter based, assumptions were limited, and SLAs were hard-wired and contracted.

Overnight this model has been turned on its head and we are now faced with new challenges around mobility, remote-access, application and network performance, scale and security. We are all optimistic that the current environment will be short-term, but there is also growing recognition that this crisis and new ways of working have defined a new normal for technology.

When we eventually return to our offices, we will do so with a new set of IT services built during the crisis, and a new set of expectations. There will be further changes required as the pendulum swings back slightly towards the way we used to work. And there will be planning required for new services, to ensure that we can deal with new business continuity events in the future. These new demands, and their variability, will require an architectural approach that is secure, scalable and flexible.

We are being forced to take immediate steps to deal with the current crisis, but it’s important that the steps we take now are the right steps toward an architecture for the future. For the past few years, Cisco has been building a network architecture optimised for the cloud era; a network architecture that not only considers and scales for multi-cloud, but also one which simplifies, scales and secures the network edge.

The current crisis has shone a very bright spotlight on our IT platforms. It has forced us to address some immediate technology needs and plan our future technology strategies. It has also reaffirmed the importance of partnerships and working together in difficult times. Whether your needs are in building for now, or architecting for the future Cisco and Data#3 are here to help.

To learn more, check out Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report here, or get in touch to connect with a network specialist today.