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My Predictions for the Top Tech Trends in 2021

2020 was a year for the record books, full of challenges and profound changes to adapt to the disruption brought on by a global pandemic. Digital infrastructure has been mission-critical for businesses as they navigated a more dispersed workforce. In 2021, the acceleration of interest for digital transformation, driven by goals for hybrid multi-cloud architectures, will lead to continued growth for the data center market.

The network has become critically important. Just think about how you interact with technology – buying groceries, banking, telemedicine, education and more than ever, connecting with friends and family through Zoom, Facetime and other video chat technologies. Recently, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, remarked that this shift would not have been possible 10 years ago. The pandemic has changed our reliance on technology and the network forever.

We made so many radical changes in such a short period of time, 2021 will be the year to get back on track and catch up to ensure our platforms and data are secure. Technology will once again enable us in the race to get back to normal. I predict that these top trends will lead the way:

Security: 
We now carry more data on our cellphone than we have in our house. We expect to access documents with just a few clicks from the phone or mobile device in the palm of our hand, and we expect it to be secure. The sudden shift to remote work disrupted and weakened security processes as companies made compromises to avoid interruptions to operations.

Based on recent events, 2021 security challenges will include shoring up remote workforce security, including mobile devices and key employees with access to sensitive data, defending against supply chain threats and meeting new security regulations such as the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). Loss prevention security and technologies, such as multi-factor authentication, will play an important role. Organizations will look for ways to build better multi-layer defenses by adding multi-site backups to their data protection strategy.

The rise of the distributed network and the placement of regional network hubs closer to users will also mandate distributed security functionality and intercept potential attacks. This will reduce exposure from the public internet while maintaining transport only across local, last-mile connections. Enterprises will need to put policies and procedures in place that identify IoT devices such as smartphones and tablets, where today’s users work and play, to maintain a top-notch security posture.

The Edge:
We demand more from networks than ever before, and these shifts in the way we consume information drive a need for data to be processed closer to users through edge computing. With the recent and sudden shift to work from home for most of the country, companies have pivoted their approach to network enterprises that will have the requirement of placing network hubs in geographically distributed regions where users improve their application performance quality of experience. Customers should look to leverage partners who have developed a national network of facilities where small deployments of compute and connectivity can reside so that their network infrastructure is enabled for the future.

Mobile and 5G:  
Consider how much more time you spend on your mobile phone or iPad – the consumer world now is driven by this. Forget about Cyber Monday; it’s Cyber Everyday. We’re learning a new set of paradigms that’s only accelerated by what 5G is doing. 5G wireless and communications technology promise faster speeds, lower latency, improved reliability and will enable things that have never been possible in the past.

The acceleration of 5G wireless network deployment will allow cities to come closer to realizing their smart vision in 2021. Be on the lookout for 5G making cities smarter in many ways – for example, offering connected vehicles the ability to communicate with traffic signals to reduce traffic, or more use of video in all things. Cities will start using 5G to update city maps on a minute-by-minute basis, including those pesky construction sites, moving to even more real-time updates. 5G will step in to feed precise details into the cloud for instantaneous map updates so you’ll never get lost again.

The past year has heightened everyone’s awareness of what it takes to be prepared, but the impact of COVID-19 is far from over. As we try to figure out new ways to collaborate and conduct business in a post-COVID world, I recommend that businesses pay attention to these trends and the need for thoughtful digital transformation. The resiliency of the data center industry and its infrastructure will help lead the way.