Chris Dyke, sales director UK & Ireland, Allied Telesis. has shared his predictions for 2023. Let’s have a look into the future!

How will companies’ approach to networking evolve in 2023?

As mobile users expect more immersive experiences on their devices, the demand for bandwidth will continue to grow. Current IT devices are evolving to provide more throughput both on a wired network, moving from 1G to 2.5/5 or 10G and on a wireless network with the full adoption of Wi-Fi 6 technology. These two evolutions need to proceed in parallel, Wi-Fi 6 requires high speed wired devices with 2.5G or 5G to provide the full potential and the wired switches need to connect to Wi-Fi 6 Access Points to use all the available bandwidth. Companies will need to take a step-by-step network upgrade, starting from the wired device to build an infrastructure ready to deploy the new Wi-Fi 6 Access Point and then once ready, migrate the Wi-Fi from the current implementation to Wi-Fi 6.

What are the new needs that will emerge most urgently?

The exponential growth in the number of attacks on IT services will become a large part of the initiative in preventing and protecting company assets. This will result in a redesign of IT services to become more resilient under different aspects. Network security, disaster recovery, power supply redundancy and network resiliency are the main aspects that companies need to consider. Businesses are also increasingly realizing that maintaining their own networks and protecting them is too difficult a job, so we anticipate continued growth in out-sourcing to managed service providers offering remote monitoring, management, and cybersecurity services.

Which vertical markets will have to face the most significant changes and why?

Building management is facing a serious challenge due to the increases in energy costs. One way to minimize this impact is to take a ‘Smart Building’ approach, where all of the different services depend on a reliable network. From the monitoring of all building aspects, PoE lighting, DVS and access control, it is the network that is the core of the smart building. This will be a revolution in the management of the building but will offer the enormous benefits of lower energy consumption, improved occupant comfort and safety, and increased building occupancy.

Manufacturing is seeing significant changes due to IT/OT integration and the adoption of edge computing. This requires evolving the network to develop a unified infrastructure with high performance and security architecture and features to protect the most sensitive part of the company, the production.

Evolution of 5G, if and how will the network landscape change?

5G and Wi-Fi are seen as competitors when it comes to coverage for mobile user services, these are currently competing in outdoor solutions where Wi-Fi is not an option (e.g., data transmission outside a company). 5G will try to erode the Wi-Fi market by moving in the direction of traditional Wi-Fi services, starting from company outdoor access, then to the non-controlled temperature environment (e.g., warehouses). Ultimately, it will then try to take some space in indoor access.

In response, Wi-Fi will evolve from 6 to 7, to improve performance and maintain its market, and always be able to deliver higher speed within its coverage area.

What new trends will emerge or consolidate over the next year?

Wi-Fi will continue to grow as the main access technology, requiring a more powerful infrastructure and advanced feature-set to support the growing demands of the user. The capability to manage the mobility, device location, and the capability to adapt autonomously to environmental changes will be the main characteristics of new wireless solutions.

To accommodate this increase in complexity, smart network management tools, incorporating elements of artificial intelligence, will become more widely adopted.

What new skills will be needed to deal with innovation?

There will be a need to evolve the skills of the IT team; IT engineers will need to be able to dovetail from network management to network security, but also to take control of all other services that run over the network (e.g., DVS or Building automation). To enable this new skill, a new family of tools are required that can automate large parts of the IT activity and to provide a complete vision of any aspect of the network in a simple way and recommend the actions the human operators should take. Ultimately, these actions will also be automated once full intent-based management tools become mainstream.

Networks and security, an ever-stronger combination?

The network is the route attackers use to reach their target. Protecting the network means protecting the first line of attack, and this will become more and more important. Firewall and AI-based systems, able to detect attacks together with autonomous security systems able to take immediate action and create a self-defending network, will become the obvious way to protect company assets.