The Top 10 Technology Trends in 2020 to Know

The Top 10 Technology Trends in 2020 to Know By Qatar Day - December 21, 2020
The Top 10 Technology Trends in 2020 to Know

The Top 10 Technology Trends in 2020 to Know

The COVID-19 pandemic that defined so much of 2020 had an undeniable impact on IT technology.

Secure access service edge (SASE) technology received so much attention because of its distributed approach to security. Telecoms continued deploying 5G networks despite many logistical challenges brought about by the pandemic. Cyber attacks increased as well, taking advantage of people’s need to stay informed. And of course, the dramatic and rapid shift to a remote workforce brought another layer to the security conundrum and strain on network resources.

Below are 2020’s top 10 IT technologies that every IT professional needs to know.

1. What Is SASE (Secure Access Service Edge)?

SASE was one of the most hyped technologies in 2020. Many vendors from SD-WAN and security backgrounds jumped into the market. The shift to remote work added to the hype because SASE is described as a distributed architecture that places security and networking functions at the network edge.

Secure access service edge (SASE) is a network architecture that combines WAN capabilities with cloud-native security functions like secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers, firewalls, and zero-trust network access.These functions are provided as a service by the SASE vendor. Users and equipment in a network are connected to a centralized cloud-based service. The term was coined by Gartner in the 2019 Networking Hype Cycle report. There is no set industry standard for SASE yet.

SASE vendors tend to come from one of three different backgrounds. There are SD-WAN vendors that are adding security features to their SD-WAN technology, sometimes through acquisitions, like the Cisco SASE. Security vendors have also begun to offer SASE services, like Palo Alto Networks with its Prisma Access SASE service. Finally, some vendors had cloud-based SD-WAN infrastructure with security elements, which were similar to the Gartner description of SASE, and transitioned into selling SASE. The Cato Networks SASE falls within that category.

2. What Is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

The idea of zero trust network access is to first blacklist everyone trying to access a network and then select those who have a legitimate reason to access the network. Whitelisted entities do not necessarily have unlimited access to a network or data center.

Zero trust network access (ZTNA) is a security architecture where only traffic from authenticated users, devices, and applications is granted access to other users, devices, and applications within an organization.As part of the authentication process, no traffic or source of traffic is trusted to be without malicious intent. All traffic from known devices and applications in addition to unknown internet traffic is treated with equal suspicion.

John Kindervag is attributed with coining the concept of ZTNA in 2010 when he was a VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. The concept would grow in popularity over time. For example, after a 2010 attack on Google and other large Silicon Valley organizations, Google started development on a different type of secure perimeter architecture, which became a ZTNA technology called Google BeyondCorp. In 2019, the research and analysis firm Gartner included ZTNA as a key technology for the new concept of secure access service edge (SASE).

3. What is SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network)?

As mentioned, many SASE vendors come from an SD-WAN background, which makes it important to know where their expertise lies and what strengths they bring to a SASE service.A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), is a network that is abstracted from its hardware, creating a virtualized network overlay.

Operators can remotely manage and quickly scale this overlay, which can span over large geographical distances. It is an application of software-defined networking (SDN).An SD-WAN can connect several branch locations to a central hub office or cover multiple locations in a large campus such as a university campus. Because it is abstracted from hardware, it is more flexible and available than a standard WAN. It relies on four central components:
Edge connectivity abstraction
WAN virtualization
Centralized management
Elastic traffic management

4. SASE vs SD-WAN: A Comparison

Both SASE and SD-WAN are wide area networking architectures. Despite many SASE vendors having an SD-WAN background, SASE and SD-WAN have their differences, which this article illustrates.

Secure access service edge (SASE) and SD-WAN are two networking technologies designed to connect geographically disparate endpoints to a source of data and application resources.SD-WAN is an application of software-defined networking (SDN), that uses a virtualized network overlay to connect and remotely manage branch offices. The focus is placed on connecting these branch offices back to a central private network. While SD-WAN can be adapted to connect to the cloud, it is not built with the cloud as its focus.

SASE, on the other hand, focuses on the cloud and has a distributed architecture. Instead of focusing on connecting branches to a central network, SASE focuses on connecting individual endpoints (whether a branch office, individual user, or single device) to the service edge. The service edge consists of a network of distributed points of presence (PoPs) where the SASE software stack runs. Moreover, SASE puts a focus on baked-in security (hence the “secure access” part of its name).

It’s like the difference between sharing files over an intranet versus over Google Drive. Both methods strive to achieve the same end goal, but the two approaches are vastly different.

5. What Is the 5G Spectrum?

Over the course of 2020, many telecoms advanced their 5G technology and expanded their deployments. The radio frequencies these 5G networks are using include a large swath of electromagnetic spectrum that has never been used before outside of certain government activities.
The 5G spectrum is a range of radio frequencies in the sub-6 GHz range and the millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequency range that is 24.25 GHz and above.

The 5G spectrum refers to the radio frequencies that carry data from user equipment (UE) to cellular base stations to the data’s endpoint. LTE networks use frequencies in the sub-6 GHz range and will be sharing the space with 5G traffic. The lower frequency bands will be used for less-densely populated areas because data can travel further, though slower, on these frequencies.
In order to utilize the newly-available mmWave spectrum, 5G networks will have to use the 5G New Radio technology being standardized by the 3GPP.

6. How to Protect Against Ransomware?

In 2020, cyber attacks became more frequent and, in particular, took advantage of the rapidly changing news cycle to make phishing emails much more convincing. Phishing attacks and ransomware are often paired together, so it is important to understand how to protect oneself against these attacks.In order to protect against ransomware, organizations must follow security best practices, educate their employees, and avoid paying the ransom.

Ransomware attacks give bad actors complete control over a device’s files and applications. This allows them to encrypt the files so that users cannot read them. It can also block access to applications. or release the files online unless the organization pays the ransom.Once this occurs, there is not much a victim can do to stop the attack. Removing malware usually involves doing a total wipe of the computer. This takes all the files on the device out with it.

7. Rapidly Scaling IT Infrastructure for Remote Workers

With the rapid and widespread shift to remote work, organizations struggled to keep up with network demands.

Rapid IT infrastructure scaling is always challenging. In March 2020, the coronavirus caused a surge in remote workers as organizations switched overwhelmingly to work-from-home policies.

Scaling IT infrastructure to support this sudden shift proved to be a struggle for IT teams, resulting in a migration to cloud-based applications and solutions, a rush on hardware that can support a remote environment, and challenges scaling VPNs to support remote worker security.

8. Infrastructure Considerations for Employee Monitoring Software

At the same time as organizations struggled to support the shift to a remote workforce, many began using employee monitoring software to ensure their newly-remote employees stayed on task. Employee monitoring software caused strain on network resources for a number of reasons.

When implementing employee monitoring software, organizations need to consider the increased use of network bandwidth, a heavier reliance on storage, and possible privacy concerns that come with collecting certain types of data.

Employee monitoring software has exploded in popularity in the first half of 2020 with the shift to remote work. As managers have not been able to physically watch their employees’ activity, many have turned to using monitoring software to track productivity and monitor employee activity during work hours.

This software can vary in how intensely it monitors employees. Some software will simply monitor time on the internet versus on work, logging how many hours employees spend on unproductive sites and applications such as Facebook, and checking bandwidth consumption for indicators of a possible security breach. Others, such as Teramind, will log keystrokes and user activity, making sure they are not performing unsecure or unproductive actions.

More intensive software such as Kickidler will record the employee directly through laptop and computer webcams, or track employee locations through geodata in order to ensure employees aren’t going out on company hours.While employee monitoring software can help keep employees accountable and secure, there are a few considerations employers should take when implementing it.

9. Network Optimization for Video Conferencing

Another element organizations and especially network providers had to deal with when a majority of organizations established work-from-home policies was how to support the exploding use of video conferencing applications.Organizations looking to optimize their networks for video conferencing on platforms like Zoom, Webex, or Skype for Business Online should:
Start by learning the application’s networking requirements.
Use quality of service policies to set bandwidth allocation and traffic prioritization needs.
Network slicing can be used to augment bandwidth allocation approaches.Monitor the application’s performance for connection-based issues.
It is recommended that administrators still balance the organization’s business needs for video with other business-critical applications. Read more by clicking the article’s title above.

10. What Is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

VPN services were one of the many technologies organizations used in 2020 kept their data safe in transit from an employee’s home to the cloud, private data center, or to other employees.

A virtual private network (VPN) creates a private network to separate the user’s traffic from the rest of a public or shared network. There are both hardware and software versions.VPNs are primarily used for remote access to a private network. For example, employees at a branch office could use a VPN to connect to the main office’s internal network. Alternatively, a remote worker, who may be working from home, could need to connect to their company’s internet or restricted applications.

By Qatar Day - December 21, 2020

Leave a comment