Will Wi-Fi remain the first choice for the wireless users in the future? What role will the technology play in our re-entry plans? What challenges for IT security lie ahead? We asked the top minds in Extreme team to share their thoughts on what 2021 might have in store for both networking technologies and their users. Here’s what they had to say!
Perry Correll, Director of Product Marketing & Competitive Intelligence
2021 will finally see the rejection of the ‘Wi-Fi vs 5G battle for dominance’ messaging, saner and smarter voices will finally breakthrough. One of those voices being Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is a perfect reflection on the value of the two wireless technologies complementing each other to provide enterprise wide, citywide and global wireless services.
Ultra-Wide Band will continue its growth to become the predominant ‘sidekick’ for Wi-Fi, replacing BLE and other short-range radio access networks (RAN). UWB provides greater location accuracy but doesn’t stop there. Adding hands free access, touchless purchasing, and all forms of proximity-based data transfers are also available.
David Coleman, Director of Product Marketing
New challengers will continue to emerge in the marketplace, but for wireless users across the globe, Wi-Fi will remain their chosen champion for connectivity in 2021. Wi-Fi has become an essential part of our daily worldwide communications culture and Wi-Fi is ingrained into our everyday lives. 15 billion Wi-Fi devices and growing!
With the future availability of 1200 MHz of new spectrum for Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz frequency band, the use of 80 MHz channels will become more commonplace. This will trigger development and innovation for higher-bandwidth application use over Wi-Fi. 2021 will launch an eventual renaissance of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications via Wi-Fi.
Ed Koehler, Distinguished Principal Engineer
When most of us in the industry think about identity, we think about Network Access Control. To those outside of the industry however, the first thing that comes to mind is a driver’s license or a Passport. The concepts of a ‘digital identity’ will become increasingly prevalent on a global level. Concepts of composite identity, such as the composite of the user, device type and called application or service will be increasingly used to enforce a stronger security posture. These important steps will strongly assist in the creation of “Zero Trust” networking environments.
Jeevan Patil, Senior Director of Product Management
The ‘Work from Anywhere’ trend will continue post-COVID and make the world flatter. Employees will continue to exercise the flexibility to work from anywhere, be it their parents’ house, within a hotel room, or from an exotic locale, and they will expect the exact same network capabilities and security they would experience on campus. This need to manage many distributed sites will accelerate adoption of Cloud managed solutions.
The exponential increase in the need for data privacy and data security will transform Cloud architectures. With the growth in cloud-managed networks, the importance of data-driven decision making will accelerate. The network data related to users, to the design of networks, and the traffic need to be treated as confidential, with a high level of privacy and security. Data durability, data privacy, and security will all gain prominence in 2021.
Joerg Bonarius, Senior Product Marketing Manager
Service providers need to put pressure on their IT staff to secure reliable application delivery. More compute power at the edge of the network means containers are constantly being deployed faster than IT-staff can manage them. Management tools can be used to automate deployment, troubleshooting and assuring service must be done in an automated fashion. With telemetry data spread across multiple server components, data needs to be processed quickly. Machine learning, which powers orchestration to deliver predictive and scalable operations across workloads can help. The combination of real-time network monitoring and ML provides an automated solution for provisioning, instantiating, and configuring physical and virtual network functions.
Mike Leibovitz, Head of Americas, Office of CTO
The provocative thought pieces claiming physical retail is officially dead are oversimplified — and will prove inaccurate in 2021. Brick-and-mortar is here to stay, and I predict we will see a surge in in-person shopping as vaccines are distributed and eager consumers wish to return to a sense of normalcy. But, stores will undoubtedly look much different. The extended services and technology that physical stores implemented during the pandemic to survive — curbside pick-up, buy-online-pickup-in-store, robotics, AR/VR — will become permanent fixtures even after the virus is gone, creating a more modern, flexible, digital retail landscape for consumers.
COVID-19 consolidated years of digital transformation progress into a matter of months, shifting much of the workforce to remote working environments. As we head into 2021 and businesses start considering a slow, staggered return to the office, “safe re-entry” will be the most critical C-suite priority of the year. But a successful, safe return to the office won’t come down to sanitization stations or socially-distanced desks. Technology will be the linchpin, enabling mission-critical steps such as temperature control, locationing, and proximity tracing. Organizations that prioritize network, cloud, and IoT investments will experience a smooth transition. Those that don’t may well be forced to revert back to remote working.