7 network forecasts for 2020: automation, edge computing, wifi 6, more

Jack Wallen also shares his predictions about a huge data breach, AI, 5G, the browser war and desktop groupware.

Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

Companies and consumers live and die through the network. We work and play in an always connected world and know that productivity and entertainment can suffer when connectivity is unreliable. That is why we are flooded with technology that makes our lives better.

For the most part it worked, but what does the future hold for our network needs? Let’s dive into it and view my network predictions for 2020.

SEE: Cheatsheet: How to become a network administrator (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

1. Network automation is essential

Following Kubernetes, network automation becomes a must-have, thanks to a greater dependence on edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). More devices will live on the edge of the cloud that require constant updates that are sent to centralized data storage. The only way to do this with some speed, consistency, and reliability is with automation, and more companies will rely on it for their network environments. This will lead to the deployment of more complex network solutions without having to depend on human intervention to make those networks work smoothly.

SEE: More technical predictions for 2020 (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

2. AI extends to networks

Part of network automation will be artificial intelligence (AI), but AI will not only drive the automation of network deployment, it will be the key to smarter networks. AI allows companies to route traffic with more intelligence and predictability and becomes crucial as more 5G networks are deployed and edge computing becomes the standard for IoT device proliferation.

3. Wi-Fi 6 becomes mainstream

Wi-Fi 6 – also known as AX WiFi or 802.11ax – is the next standard for wireless technology and is made to support the growing number of deployed devices with improved traffic routing. This new protocol debuted in 2019, and by the end of 2020, Wi-Fi 6 will be mainstream and all mobile devices will support it.

SEE: Meet the Wi-Fi 6 routers that support 802.11ax (CNET)

4. 5G is released in every major city

5G has faced a difficult road to reality, but in 2020 this new standard will be introduced to every major city in the world and bring about fundamental changes in network connectivity. With higher speeds, range and flexibility, 5G will not only make consumers happy, it will enable massive innovation in edge computing and bring improvements with last-mile connectivity, Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), video surveillance, network capacity and more.

5. Great web turmoil in the war

Although this hurts to say to me, the web browser war will be won – at least temporarily – by Microsoft Edge. Why? Microsoft did the smart thing and rebuilt its browser on top of the open source Chromium, which was already a proven trade product favored by many open source users. With Microsoft launching its Edge browser, it will see an increase in user base, thanks to a native Linux version; however, this victory will be short-lived because the competition will scream to win back the first place.

I’m also looking for the alternative Vivaldi browser that is growing in popularity, thanks to increased security measures and unparalleled speed and reliability.

The browser war will be more hot than we have ever seen, and users will benefit because the major browsers in each category have been improved.

SEE: Microsoft is getting ready to roll out the new Edge to Windows 10 via Windows Update (ZDNet)

6. The return of the desktop groupware suite

Call me old-fashioned, but I long for the return of the desktop groupware suite. In this world where the cloud rules, there is little room for client-based tools, but I predict that we will see a huge cloud-based data breach like never before. This will lead to consumers and companies (at least temporarily) turning away from web-based groupware tools in favor of desktop iterations. After such a breach, most email providers require challenging passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA), which are included in the new series of groupware suite releases.

SEE: Serverless computer use: a guide for IT leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

7. Edge as a Service is central

Technology loves its acronyms, and one that will get its time in the spotlight is EaaS (Edge as a Service). With this technology, edge nodes and devices will advance from bridging centralized networks and processing and transmitting data to interaction with the public at a level of efficiency and reliability that has never been observed.

For example, you have advanced devices used in high traffic urban areas where data collection and security are crucial. Instead of relying on unsafe and intermittent networks to pay for or log in to services, the implemented edge devices can collect and verify this data in real time and send it when the connection becomes more reliable. Edge devices become the intermediary service between user and network. We will see such technology deployed in more locations and in more unique ways.

SEE: From cloud to edge: the next IT transformation (ZDNet / TechRepublic special function) Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

What are your network forecasts?

Many of my predictions come from experience and changes and innovations that I want to see. Even if none of these predictions come true, we can hope that technology will continue to provide us with more safety and reliability.

Share your network-related predictions for 2020 in the comments section.

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