Top Ten Branch Network Predictions for 2019

It’s that time of the year again!

Family and office holiday parties are gearing up, business projects are racing toward year-end deadlines, and seemingly everyone is sharing their 2019 predictions for IT and cybersecurity.

But what about the branch network?

So much has transpired in 2018 that has transformed the operation of a branch location wide-area network. Netsurion is at the forefront of this transformation and here are some predictions that will help ensure you too can manage your branch networks better.

  1. The cloud becomes the “new data center”
  2. MPLS fatigue drives migration to SD-WAN
  3. Securing the edge becomes a priority
  4. Applications accelerate move to the cloud
  5. Cloud applications drive value of redundant and failover connectivity
  6. Bring Your Own Link (BYOL)
  7. SD-Branch becomes mainstream
  8. Security is Top-of-Mind
  9. Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G start dating
  10. The future is Managed SD-Branches with Managed Security

The cloud becomes the “new data-center”

An estimated 40-60% of traffic is shifting to the cloud to achieve easy any-to-any connectivity, radically disrupting traditional remote office-to-data center traffic flows. This does not mean that the cloud is replacing data centers but instead its adoption is producing a hybrid environment. By adopting cloud technologies, distributed businesses are in effect shifting CapEx to OpEx and achieving cost efficiencies, among other benefits.

MPLS fatigue drives migration to SD-WAN

MPLS fatigue will continue to drive migration to SD-WAN based architectures, attaining the agility and cost reductions that IT seeks, and leveraging broadband and cellular for connectivity and redundancy. For some companies, a full migration to SD-Branch solutions will be achieved, while some will implement mesh networks via VPN to maintain resiliency, and others will opt to retain mission critical MPLS links while laying over SD-Branch solutions. Download this short whitepaper and compare MPLS against SD-WAN.

Securing the edge becomes a priority

Edge security becomes of paramount importance in 2019. Endpoint security has always been a primary concern, but the need to secure the access to the cloud at the edge will increase the importance of cybersecurity functions such as Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDS/IPS), Unified Threat Management (UTM), Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM), next-gen firewall, Network Access Control (NAC), URL filtering, and traffic segmentation. A comprehensive security strategy for branch networks will mean securing everything from endpoint-to-edge.

Applications move to the cloud

Analysts project that by 2030 80% of new applications will be deployed in the cloud, demanding that traffic and bandwidth planning must increasingly optimize and validate trust of cloud application access. While growing bandwidth usage becomes less of a financial concern for distributed businesses after migrating from MPLS to SD-WAN network architectures, traffic segmentation and optimization, encryption, deep packet inspection, firewall management, and network access control are functions that become ever more important.

Cloud applications drive value of redundant and failover connectivity

Applications moving from local to cloud hosting, and ever-increasing content services have become part of the daily application diet of branch office users. “Always on” reliability becomes a requirement. To ensure a resilient branch network and highly available connectivity, distributed businesses that transitioned to SD-WAN in 2018 will need to consider deploying dual broadband links, cellular failover (4G, LTE) and mesh VPN links, if they haven’t done it already. Hence the rise of comprehensive SD-Branch solutions.

Bring Your Own Link (BYOL)

You’ve heard before about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) megatrend in IT, haven’t you? So, let’s define a new megatrend for the branch networking world (with fancy acronym and all). BYOL: Bring Your Own Link. As bandwidth prices go down becoming mainstream, cloud applications become more flexible, cost-effective, easily available and easily upgradable, aggregate access link strategies become mandatory. 4G LTE is the new business continuity option and in some cases like IoT connectivity, the main link. Carrier agnostic (or multi-carrier) multifunction on premise devices address this need, providing business continuity, redundant links, and peace of mind.

SD-Branch goes mainstream

A refresh is coming. The pace of change in technology and traffic is accelerating, while costs and budgets remain limited or decline. Evaluation of SD-WAN down market gives way to SD-Branch! No longer the new buzzword out of the SDN glossary, SD-Branch will become mainstream and understood in many verticals such as retail, hospitality, c-stores, healthcare, financial, and IoT-reliant businesses.

Security is Top-of-Mind

User mobility, BYOD, IoT devices, and increased use of Internet for access to cloud applications will increase the pressure on network security, while hackers and phishing events become ever more sophisticated and widespread. Many distributed businesses (especially franchises) care mostly about brand reputation. Most branches have had a downtime or two but have not yet experienced a major data breach, and traditionally prioritize business continuity from the connectivity perspective instead of security. This will start to change in 2019 as edge security becomes critical.

Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G start dating

2019 will see early adopters of 5G among certain types of distributed enterprises requiring fast cellular connectivity. These companies will be among the first ones considering and testing 5G cellular networks either as failover solutions or as the main link, although we foresee that 4G will remain prevalent for a while. See the case of Volta’s charging stations, as an example. Nonetheless, the SD-WAN space will see a lot of buzz around 5G this year, with telcos and big network appliance vendors increasing the noise level. However, businesses with small- to medium-sized branches that care mostly about cost efficiencies and IT agility will steer clear of the 5G buzz.

The future is Managed SD-Branches with Managed Security

The Managed Service Providers (MSP) market is expected to grow at least 10 percent per year in average during the next five years and SD-WAN is one of the main drivers of growth. At the same time, the global cybersecurity talent gap will drive distributed enterprises to outsource many cybersecurity functions. As a result, MSPs will see an increase in demand to power secure and agile networks and will embrace the opportunity to combine a connectivity offering with a security one, by layering managed security services on top of the branch networks they deploy.

Conclusion

SD-WAN technology has matured by combining high network availability (cellular failover, meshing), agility (rapid deployment, zero-touch provisioning), simplicity (via user friendly cloud-based orchestrators), security (firewall, visibility, access control), and cost effectiveness (reducing CapEx, OpEx and Total Cost of Ownership). Ever smaller, more capable, multifunction devices will deliver the connectivity, resiliency, simplicity, security, agility and network visibility needed to build a better branch experience. At Netsurion, we are at the forefront of these trends and we are proud of our SD-Branch and SIEM services designed with the MSP and the small- to medium-sized branch in mind.

Happy 2019! Stay secure and always on!

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