2021 Global Networking Trends Report: business resiliency takes center stage

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Businesses around the world experienced unprecedented long-term disruption to their operations almost overnight due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, Cisco has conducted an extensive study of the issues that have arisen in relation to business resiliency during the last 12 months. The report highlights the key enterprise network trends companies should consider ensuring they are well positioned to successfully navigate 2021.

The 2021 Global Networking Trends Report: Business Resilience Special Edition identifies resiliency as the ability for a business to do more than provide an acceptable level of service in a challenging period. Instead, it is to have an intuitive network platform that can respond quickly to any circumstances, enable new operating models and digital services, integrate with IT processes, and safeguard their employees, core activities, customers, and brand.

The report highlights a Business Continuity Institute (BCI) survey that found 59.8% of business continuance professionals rate IT resilience as the most significant factor in responding to the current pandemic. It explores how a company can develop its network strategy so that it is able to complement a business’s resilience strategy.

The 2021 Global Networking Trends Report: Business Resilience Special Edition highlights five key networking trends and the need to employ multi-dimensional approaches across the workforce, workplace, workloads and IT operations.

  • Secure remote access: Studies have found that an average of 4.7 times more people are now working from home compared to pre-pandemic levels. As such companies should empower their staff to be productive and collaborative from anywhere by improving security on work-from-home networks by scaling VPN, use multifactor authentication MFA to protect applications and deploy cloud security and secure access services edge (SASE) to defend against cyber threats.
  • Smart-trusted workplaces: Networking teams are preparing for a safe return to the office by improving existing video conferencing and location-based Wi-Fi services while others are deploying new services and safeguards, such as physical distance monitoring, proximity reporting, increased workplace automation, and more. IT departments must ensure networks are stress tested, automate identity-based secure access and enhance the safety of employees and customers via location-based analytics once people return to offices.
  • Multicloud networking: Increasingly, IT leaders are now using cloud solutions to improve business resilience in the wake of the global pandemic. As a result, the adoption of a multicloud model — distributing applications, workloads, and data across on-premises data centers and public cloud providers — has sped up, reducing costs, increasing flexibility, and protecting against and spreading the risk of catastrophic failures.
  • Network automation: The impact of the pandemic has also been felt in the unprecedented levels of steep fluctuations in client counts, application traffic patterns, and rapid increases in new use cases for e-learning, video conferencing, virtual events, remote care, process automation, and other network-dependent services. To ensure continued service it is essential that repetitive administrative tasks, network access, onboarding, and segmentation as well as policy beyond the data center to the cloud are automated in addition to many other network functions.
  • AI-enabled assurance: The sheer complexity of modern networks and the deluge of events and issues bombarding multiple disparate monitoring platforms can be overwhelming and ineffective, especially when a disruption hits. A Cisco study found an average of 4,400 wireless-related monthly events on an enterprise network. By implementing AI-enabled network analytics and machine learning techniques, NetOps teams are able to achieve a much more manageable set of issues they can take action on.

“Despite the challenges businesses have faced in 2020, due to the huge disruption to networks created by the Covid-19 pandemic, solutions are available. Businesses that rethink their network strategy to focus on resiliency by adopting the latest network capabilities will be agile enough to stay ahead of the next big challenge.

“They can do this by implementing greater automation and AI-powered insights to empower companies and enable them to adapt to an ever-changing environment while maintaining high levels of service. By becoming aware of the key networking trends for 2021 such as the workforce, workplace, workloads and within operations, business will be able to employ strategies that will allow them to be flexible enough to meet potential future disruptions with greater confidence and success,” said Osama Al-Zoubi, Cisco CTO for Middle East and Africa.  

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