The COVID-19 pandemic has once again re-affirmed the importance of digital transformation in enterprises. Organizations which had some level of cloud presence were clearly able to re-align themselves to the changing business needs and cater to their customers more effectively during the pandemic.
Enterprises traditionally have always had less emphasis on network transformation initiatives compared to other enterprise infrastructure segments. However, organizations have started to focus more on user experience and invest in next-generation network technologies to bring in more automation capabilities, enable seamless management, and enhance security capabilities rather than focusing on just speed or connectivity.
Some of the key networking trends enabling enterprises to be future-ready are:
- Cloud/Multi-Cloud. In the wake of the pandemic, digital resilience and agility were the key priorities of enterprises. Part of the digitalization initiative was making their shift to the cloud/multi-clouds which became the origin for all the changes in the network ecosystem. The capability to manage these cloud resources has led to building efficient cloud management and orchestration capabilities. India has started to witness a phenomenon where even highly regulated segments like banking and government have started to expand their multi-cloud/hybrid cloud strategies to drive efficiencies.
- Convergence of network and security. With the need for direct internet access and increasing security vulnerabilities; networking and security cannot be perceived as siloes anymore. Enterprises are looking out to partner with vendors and technology partners who can provide a solution that can encompass both the elements (network + security) rather can bringing in disparate solutions into the network ecosystem. Solutions like secure access service edges have enabled the tight integration of multiple point solutions together and can deliver it cloud-native through secure gateways.
- Network management. Enterprises are also faced with difficulties relating to network management which got amplified by the pandemic-induced lockdowns across the country. Multiple activities related to deploying new branches, and troubleshooting were a challenge. The trend of cloud-based management is starting to pick up, where vendors are now offering a single management and orchestration platform to manage all their networking infrastructure under a single management console.
- Importance of Wi-Fi 6 in modern enterprise. Though the market for wireless access points declined because of the pandemic; wireless will still be a gamechanger in bringing employees safely back to offices. Wi-Fi 6 access points accommodating increased bandwidth and capacity needs coupled with location-based services will play a pivotal role in COVID-19 contact tracing. Wi-Fi 6 has seen a significant surge in demand over the last few quarters. With capabilities such as MU-MIMO, TWT, OFDMA; Wi-Fi 6 would prove to be the de facto technology for wireless connectivity demanding high bandwidth (video content) and low latency needs.
- Software-defined (SDN/NFV/SD-WAN). Software-defined technologies have had a huge impact on the enterprise network ecosystem. Especially, the WAN area has gone through a tremendous transformation. IDC predicts SD-WAN adoption in India to grow at a CAGR of 20-plus percent (2020-2024). Security capabilities are one of the key considerations for enterprises while choosing an SD-WAN vendor. We expect the SD-WAN adoption in India to be driven by telecom vendors through managed service models. BFSI segment is one of the key contributors to SD-WAN business in India.
The pandemic has reiterated the significance of digital transformation to the enterprises and taught how transforming networks will be a huge gamechanger. The enterprise network transformation is not a standalone implementation of any specific technology, it is rather a journey through which enterprises need to constantly evolve. Hence it is advised that organizations partner with the right technology provider with a comprehensive solution suite and strong technical know-how to help enterprises achieve desired results.