Network Trends to Watch in 2020
From our vantage point at Ixia—securing and optimizing the world’s networks—we take stock each new year of the forces that will impact our customers and shape how we design and deliver our solutions. Here are eight trends we are watching as we head into 2020.
1. SD-WAN going mainstream with enhanced security features
SD-WAN is a technology that has generally lived up to its promise. Adoption grew significantly throughout 2019. A Masergy-IDG Research survey of IT managers found that SD-WAN adoption rates increased from 35 percent to 54 percent over the past two years, with 90 percent actively researching, piloting, or using SD-WAN. Security of SD-WAN remains the top challenge and is a leading factor in their SD-WAN selection process. Solutions are now available to help organizations test the security and performance of their SD-WAN network before implementation. Some enterprises may also be interested in model where SD-WAN is used to deliver all IT as a service to remote sites/branch offices. In either case, you can now use an active network monitoring solution to test the reliability and security of your connections before going live with SD-WAN.
2. High-speed traffic coming to the network edge
Next generation 5G wireless technology is increasing the amount of critical traffic at the network edge. While mobile phone providers are set to deliver more cost-efficient 5G devices in 2020, smartphones aren’t the only client devices that will benefit from 5G. Venture Beat reports that several carriers are already offering 5G home broadband service using wireless modems that provide speeds comparable to traditional wired service. This will make more applications and tasks viable over a remote, wireless connection. Another growing segment will be the introduction of PCs with the ability to connect directly to 5G networks, further increasing the demand for critical services at longer distances from the network core.
3. Performance monitoring breaking free of the data center
As critical applications and services migrate to the network edge, user experience and performance monitoring also become edge focused. In 2020, demand will surge for APM, NPM, and security solutions that optimize QoS, QoE, and security at network endpoints. Customers and employees alike depend on peak performance. Active, or synthetic, network monitoring will be more commonly deployed by organizations wanting to monitor actual and expected performance at a wide variety of network endpoints. These platforms allow you to observe how your production network will behave in response to changes in the source, mix, and volume of network traffic types. Virtual endpoints gather metric data that operations engineers can use to validate performance.
4. Hybrid environments drive need for integrated management
As organizations have shifted many applications to public cloud to reduce costs and increase flexibility, they have also retained other applications with a greater need for security and compliance in-house. These competing interests have made hybrid IT the most common IT architecture. At the same time, the complexity of delivering services on diverse infrastructure is also driving the demand for integrated management platforms that capture and display key metrics across all the infrastructure segments in use. The importance of managing service delivery across hybrid infrastructure will continue to be strong into 2020.
5. Pre-deployment application testing becomes more cost-effective
While application testing in the lab is a tried-and-true best practice, testing application performance on the live network before rollout has traditionally not been easy or cost-effective. The increasing sophistication of active monitoring (or synthetic monitoring) platforms is changing that. In 2020, operations engineers can generate synthetic application traffic from any end node in their distributed, hybrid network and capture key performance metrics. The active monitoring platforms let IT run what-if scenarios by varying the volume and type of application traffic. The resulting metrics can help an organization avoid a costly rollout glitch and reduce the volume of support cases.
6. Service providers take control of the last mile
Last mile service delivery is getting a lot of attention. Cloud and service providers, as well as large enterprise IT departments, are focused on maximizing customer satisfaction to drive usage and keep support costs low. The biggest issue for these teams is not having visibility to performance during the last mile of service delivery. In 2020, service providers have the opportunity to install a simple probe to close the visibility gap. Small and inexpensive new appliances can be deployed by non-technical personnel in the field to record and report performance metrics. These probes help IT find and fix issues faster, to meet service level agreements.
7. Governments ratchet up cybersecurity
The constant drip, drip of reported cyberattacks on state and local government infrastructure is finally getting the attention it deserves. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) reported that 24 new state CIOs have been appointed since 2018. And according to a GovLoop survey, state CIOs report that cybersecurity is their #1 priority. The U.S. federal government’s annual budget for 2020 includes a 5% increase for cybersecurity and a provision to help state and local governments pay for increased breach and threat defense.
8. Time-sensitive network (TSN) validation testing grows
As industrial automation based on Ethernet matures and is used by more organizations, validating timed interactions between multi-vendor services will become mandatory. Research and development in this area is increasing. Proven test platforms and technologies that validate the ability of multi-vendor services to interact within a precise time-frame will emerge and accelerate the testing will emerge that focuses on validating the ability of multi-vendor services to maintain critical interactions within the required time span that ensures uninterrupted industrial operations.
Our digital world will be full of twists and turns in 2020. Here at Ixia, we are dedicated to helping customers navigate their IT challenges with dynamic network intelligence. Find out more about Ixia solutions for network visibility and security, or contact us for help with your 2020 IT resolution.
 David Ramel, “Survey: Growing SD-WAN Adoption Slowed by Cost Concerns, Skills Gap,” Virtualization & Cloud Review, July 7, 2019
 Jeremy Horowitz, “5G in 2020: How devices and networks will evolve over the next year,” Venture Beat, December 11, 2019.
 John Thomas Flynn: “NASCIO at 50 years, 24 new state CIOs since 2018,” Federal News Network, May 16, 2019.
 Pearl Kim: “What State CIOs Are Saying About Top 5 Tech Trends for 2020,” govloop.com, November 6, 2019.