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Top 5 Networking Predictions for 2022

By David Hughes, Chief Product Officer

As we start 2022, we face many of the same challenges that we tackled head on in 2021. The ongoing pandemic has become our new normal and that means people will continue to work and learn from anywhere, and enterprises will need to enable secure connectivity to business applications, regardless of where people are connecting from. We will continue to see an evolution of the network edge, be it driven by users looking for more consistent ways to access applications or security concerns associated with the proliferation of IoT devices. Here are my top 2022 predictions and where I think this year is headed. (You can also register for the webinar where we'll cover these topics more in depth.)

Devices will continue to outnumber people

Digital transformation is driving a proliferation of IoT devices, and Machine to Machine (M2M) communications are growing rapidly. Today, connected devices outnumber people 5:1. Over the next three years, there will be 10x more connected devices as compared to people, making automated secure connectivity of IoT of paramount importance. Without an automated way to onboard, provision, and secure these devices, organizations will be left vulnerable to security breaches, which are continually growing in sophistication.

Two clear paths to SASE emerge

As SASE (secure access service edge) deployments increase, the market will see a clear split in approaches. Small and medium sized enterprises will be attracted to the all-in-one SASE offerings, where simplicity is valued over advanced capabilities. On the other hand, large enterprises will remain unwilling to compromise on security, reliability, or the quality of user experience. They will look to a dual-vendor approach, pairing a best-of-breed SD-WAN partner for on-prem security and WAN facing capabilities, with a fully-fledged cloud-delivered security partner delivering secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), Zero Trust network access (ZTNA) services, and more.

The transition to Wi-Fi 6E will take off

While much of attention has been given to 5G cellular, on the campus and inside the enterprise, we are on the cusp of a fast transition to Wi-Fi 6E. Wi-Fi 6E delivers high capacity with an additional 1200 MHz of new spectrum, while retaining backwards compatibility. Leading market intelligence firm, 650 Group, expects over 200 percent unit growth of Wi-Fi 6E enterprise APs in 2022, indicating that enterprise organizations recognize the potential of 6E, especially with the continued reliance on bandwidth-intensive activities such as videoconferencing, telemedicine, and distance learning.

Hybrid working will drive the rise of “microbranches” supercharged with AI automation

Work from home is here to stay. This new normal will drive the emergence of the microbranch or “branch of one.” In the early days of the pandemic, organizations scrambled to expand VPNs and deploy remote access points (RAPs) to connect their locked-down workforce and implement pop-up testing kiosks. In 2022, we will see enormous growth for purpose-built microbranch offerings that combine enterprise-class Wi-Fi access with sophisticated multi-path WAN connectivity and advanced AIOps for reliability and consistent user experience. These microbranch offerings will securely extend the enterprise to the “branch of one.”

Consumption-based services like NaaS will be in greater demand

Organizations are less focused on devices and capex and more focused on the business outcomes of their technology investments. Organizations want greater financial flexibility and cost predictability, while being able to increase IT efficiency and keep pace with innovation. A flexible infrastructure consumption model, which NaaS provides, allows for all of this. And for those organizations that aren’t fully ready to take the plunge, flexible consumption models provide the option to “try before buying,” so that enterprises can adopt the new model—or not—at their own pace. This will drive a big increase in demand for consumption-based services like NaaS in 2022.

How do my predictions line up with yours? 

Register for our webinar to hear my predictions for the year ahead that will help enterprises problem-solve and accelerate transformation at the network edge.

Read the eBook to discover the technology trends, challenges, and opportunities that will be high on the agenda for your customers this year and beyond.