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Predictions 2020: Networks and IT Biggest Impacts

From 5G driving SDN and NFV, to exploding enterprise apps, edge computing, connected hybrid clouds and, of course, cybersecurity, the new decade in 2020 promises to be very eventful for network and security managers across the globe. Here are our predictions for the top five trends that will shape technology and the networks industry in the coming year.

1. Infrastructure will move closer to the edge

Progressing towards multiple clouds is a really smart move. It helps ease digital transformation on some aspects of agile development, just-in-time infrastructure availability and pay-as-you-grow costing models. However, some workloads need to stay within the enterprise datacenter and some usages require regional to local compute power.
There’ll be in 2020 a real acceleration of edge cloud provider offers with competition from the CDN providers adding more compute features with serverless functions, as well as from traditional big cloud players adding more small regional datacenters and in-house solutions for enterprises. The requirement for security edge access points will probably also be more mature, with functional and marketing initiatives like SASE mixing both WAN access and network security as-a-service.

Internal enterprise networks will also take advantage of small compute, storage and security solutions. Connecting users to applications is still the main objectives of I&O teams and IP network fundamentals are still required. There will be much talk in 2020 of IP networking, security with firewall and application content filtering, and for sure DNS for IP resolution. Function combination close to users will take advantage of NFV design patterns and virtualization mechanism allowing all functions to be grouped on the same appliance. DNS is part of the SASE movement, and in this context use will be made of Edge DNS GSLB functionality to distribute the traffic as it offers a clear understanding of the network meshing beneath as well as quality of service at the application level.

2020 will be the year of balancing cloud between public, private and edge datacenters in a more efficient workload distribution for the benefit of application and users.

2. 5G definition will be finalized by Telcos, driven by virtualized software-defined networks

Innovative digital transformation projects, multi-cloud and 5G are bringing deployment of new network foundations and architectures such as SDN (Software Defined Network), NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) and SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN). 2020 will be the year telcos finalize their full picture offer of 5G. Not only by deploying antennas in big cities and proposing high speed internet access for very high-end mobile devices at $1000, but also by preparing the enterprise model for IoT, mobile fleets, home networks and all services proposed around network slicing.

This last point is the most important one since it will change the way mobile cell networks are used by enterprises. It will allow all devices to be part of a dedicated and private slice of the 5G network. This requires some infrastructure and networking services to be dedicated for the enterprise on the 5G slice, bringing requirements for NFV and SDN. These are not only new concepts but a way for telcos to duplicate their infrastructure service for each slice of the network, requiring them to switch from their current usage of big hardware boxes to software-based solutions and to rapidly adopt virtualization.

NFV will require DNS services alongside firewalling and load-balancing for example, but more important is the service layer with accounting, configuration and billing. This is the ETSI MANO area where DDI (DNS-DHCP-IPAM) will bring real value, playing its role of central repository, always up-to-date, API driven and highly connected to the entire IT ecosystem of any telco.

5G will require automation, zero-touch operations, cloud approach, agility, and chaos testing. These are new paradigms for most telcos, but cloud big players are also moving to the 5G market via mergers and acquisition.

2020 will be the final year of 5G preparation, with still a lot to do and telco marketing teams pushing really hard to be the leaders in coverage and bandwidth. There will be plenty of excitement around this subject as they prepare for mass adoption by end users and enterprises in 2021.

3. Clouds will become more connected

Multi cloud has become standard for most enterprises. By 2022, 70% of companies will have deployed unified hybrid management tools & processes (IDC stat). Standard architecture will shortly include private cloud within an internal datacenter, at least two public cloud offers and perhaps disaster recovery as a service (aka DRaaS).

In this context of splitting computing resources for applications in multiple cloud solutions, I&O teams are facing complex challenges. How to split the application workload between cloud solutions? How to ensure resilience and performance? How to limit costs by controlling without seizing up the digital transformation which is not yet complete ? How to control SLA for customers who are paying for the service? Kubernetes will probably play an important part for container and serverless application deployment, while in more classical IaaS deployments many standard virtual machines will still exist.

DDI has a major role to play in this mixed ecosystem – for managing IP resources & apps – bringing automated life-cycle management, error-free configurations, policy compliance, and accelerated deployment of apps and services. IPAM’s central dynamic repository of IP resources will bring cross-platform visibility and a single source of truth available to network management ecosystem players such as Cisco DNA/ACI and ServiceNow. The automation openness of DDI solutions with orchestration tools, cloud providers API or network and security vendors will start to be a key differentiator for enterprises willing to take advantage of multi cloud ubiquity for their application workloads.

2020 will be the year where I&O teams will have to optimize and rationalize cloud initiatives – their own ones as well as the ones from their internal clients.

4. Malware will become more intelligent by using complex communication methods, driven by DGAs

Zero Trust security approach – implying micro-zoning, telemetry and identity and access management – highlights the fact that perimeter security is insufficient for defeating insider threats, which are becoming more sophisticated, diverse and powerful. Being one of the most effective and most popular tools in the attackers’ toolbox, DGAs (Domain Generation Algorithms) are responsible for communication with C&C (command and control) servers and play an important role in malware intelligence increasing. For connecting malware to domains hiding the C&C server, cybercriminals use DGAs to generate on the fly a large number of non-existent domain names. This helps the attacker to evaluate malware propagation and plan its activation using a domain name as a rendezvous point. These prevent known domain names being blocked by proxies, NGFW, RPZ and generally speaking by any reputation filtering based system.

Security based on domain reputation is therefore no longer sufficient. Common methods for detecting DGAs based on syntax, are easily bypassed and often create false positives. A new approach will be required, based on analyzing queries end-to-end, from the client to the destination domain. DNS is ideally placed to help, as it sees just about 100% of traffic. Every resolution of a domain name goes through DNS. Consequently, contextual analysis of DNS traffic will allow building of threat intelligence, by looking at the source as well as the destination during each transaction. Applying machine learning to this intelligence will go some way towards combating DGAs.

2020 will be the year where both malware attack and defense methods increasingly use AI techniques in order to adapt themselves to an ever changing environment.

5. Number of industry apps will explode

Digital transformation is not yet complete. Even if not all monoliths will be transformed to micro services and serverless architecture, the refactoring of all applications is still in process and will help increase the numbers. More workloads creation, more automation, more continuous integration and deployment will happen in 2020. SaaS offers are still very attractive and force enterprises to evaluate if it is better to adapt their process with a SaaS approach or go “self made” with internal development. This endless decision process of build or buy will continue through 2020 and beyond.

In order to be more efficient on application usage or development, three major pillars are mandatory: user management, application management and security management. However, all the technical infrastructure components are distributed and repositories difficult to create and dynamically maintain. This is where DDI has a vital role to play for accompanying the exploding growth of applications: IPAM as the central repository of any IP-related information, DHCP as a foundation for the devices to be IP enabled, and DNS to link the users to their applications.

Having a centralized application repository, as well as automated deployment and management of the apps, will become more vital as their numbers grow. In addition, there’ll be a need to optimize load balancing of traffic from users to applications to ensure availability and provide the best user experience from the network. This intelligence can be provided by making use of DNS to take traffic routing decisions at the network edge, closest to users. And by making use of the security built into the DNS servers, enterprises can limit risk when deploying more applications.

2020 will be the year of digital transformation maturity, more efficient application development and, most importantly, shifting the focus back towards users, who have been put aside during digital transformation. After all, they are the real owners of the application, regardless of the infrastructure or the cloud technology underneath.

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