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Posted by
Katie Tregurtha on
December 30, 2020
General

2020 in Review, and Looking Forward to 2021

Addressing the many unexpected challenges of 2020 required most companies to adapt quickly to keep employees and customers connected. Technological initiatives that were expected to take years were compressed into monthslong timelines to keep business running as smoothly as possible.

Keep reading for a review of the top technological trends that were accelerated and prioritized in 2020. We expect most to only continue into 2021 and beyond, as some of these behavioral changes driving increased traffic and use will become permanent.

Improving Business Resilience

Given the myriad challenges of 2020, ensuring business resilience is more important now than ever. Companies learned firsthand that the ability to keep customers, partners, and employees securely connected to websites, external applications, enterprise networks, and internal applications at all times is paramount to business success.

To support companies rethinking or honing their business resiliency strategy, we provided a deep dive at our recent INS1GHTS Days in December - you can watch replays here: https://resources.ns1.com/ins1ghts-days-resilience.

Or, download our ebook, Profiles in Business Resilience, for lessons learned from some of the most resilient companies we have worked with.

Scaling and Improving the Content Streaming Experience

For companies that provide streaming services to their users - whether for news, entertainment, education or work - a high-quality end-user experience has always been their top priority. Then 2020 hit, and providing an optimal end-user experience while managing surging user traffic made it a mission critical priority. We partnered with Dan Rayburn, streaming media analyst, to survey companies providing streaming services on the top challenges they’ve faced in 2020, and their predictions for changing traffic demands in 2021.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most expect the volume of streaming traffic to only increase in 2021, and are prioritizing intelligent traffic management as a way to manage the demand. Download the report for the full results.

Enabling Large-Scale, Live-Streamed Events

Similarly, social distancing requirements only accelerated the popularity of large-scale, live streamed events, such as sporting events, video game experiences, or concerts. However, with larger online audiences than ever before, the livestreaming landscape is fraught with challenges from network congestion to technology failures.

Running large scale, live-streamed events requires content owners to be nimble, remove single points of failure, and ensure redundancy and failover within their workflows to flawlessly deliver streams to end-users over myriad devices and platforms. Going forward, many events may be permanently “hybrid”, with some attendees onsite and others streaming. Companies that found short-term solutions to support the increase in livestreaming this year may want to consider longer term investments. For an in-depth look at how to ensure an optimal end user experience, download our whitepaper, How to Successfully Deliver A Large-Scale Livestream Event.

Supporting a Fully Remote Workforce

With the majority of your workforce currently working fully remote, it has never been more important to ensure secure and fast access to the company VPN. Traditionally, VPNs have been designed to provide remote access to a small proportion of corporate employees, not to support full-time, company-wide remote work.

Implementing VPN traffic steering mitigates this issue by leveraging traffic steering policies to send workers to the optimal, healthy VPN site with the most capacity. If one site starts to hit capacity, intelligent traffic routing will automatically balance incoming connections across the entire network. Check out our whitepaper, Achieving Higher Network Efficiency with Smart Traffic Steering, for a deeper dive into how to improve your VPN performance efficiently and economically.

Improving Security Protocols

Security concerns also increased with a fully remote workforce, given the fact that remote work is naturally more likely to occur over insecure networks or devices than in-office work. In light of this, Zero Trust security became a hotter topic than ever before.

Zero Trust is based on the assumption that threats can arise anywhere, inside or outside the network, and that every component of the network where data, assets, applications and services reside must be validated and secured.

Depending on your current enterprise technology infrastructure it may require an upfront investment to implement successfully. However, the payoff in the long run – managing reputational risk, avoiding the financial cost of a data breach, and enabling a safe remote workforce – is well worth it. Remote work is expected to continue as a part of office life in the coming years, as employees and employers found in 2020 that they can work productively at home too.

Modernization of IT Infrastructure

While most companies listed IT modernization as a priority before the pandemic, the trends discussed above - a fully remote workforce, digital-first customer experiences, and surging website and application traffic - made it a mission-critical priority.

For example, we recently conducted research (in partnership with IDG Research) to learn more about how the pandemic has affected modernization initiatives. We found that 81% of companies are making progress on modernization initiatives, and prioritizing projects such as:

  • IT resilience (59%)
  • Public cloud deployment (58%)
  • Scalability improvement (58%)
  • Private cloud deployment (57%)
  • Deployment velocity (56%)

The main obstacles to modernization - besides talent and skills gaps - were related to aging IT infrastructure, such as legacy infrastructure (35%), organizational inflexibility (33%), and technical/operational debt (31%).

If IT modernization is top of mind for your organization, download our Ultimate Guide for Building a Modern Foundation in the Connected Economy to learn how to modernize your application network.

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