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Top 10 networking stories of 2020

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 networking stories of 2020

So much has been up in the air since the onset of Covid-19 and the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders issued by various governments around the world, especially those in the major European economies and North America in March 2020. And given the death toll from the coronavirus and the major negative impact that it has had on business around the world, it seems somewhat distasteful to say that the last nine months have actually been good for the networking industry.

That is to say, the edicts to work from home for millions were made on the rather bold assumption that national infrastructures were capable of transitioning from enterprise to home networks almost overnight. The good news is that, in the main, they have to date indeed been capable of supporting this change.

Two key themes in networking came to the fore over 2020: software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) and gigabit network proliferation. Both really began growing in earnest in 2019, but they have accelerated greatly since the pandemic began as the massive increase in remote working, which is set to continue for a long time, if not permanently, has driven firms to think deeply about their network infrastructures.

The SD-WAN market has evolved, moving toward larger-scale and globalised deployments. SD-WAN suppliers are now releasing features designed to support deployment at scale, allowing multi-tenancy where enterprises can define sub-regions for their WANs that are to be managed independently. In fact, this maturity is now commonly accepted to have reached a stage where SD-WAN suppliers are focusing on explaining to customers why a particular offering is best and how it aligns with strategic corporate directions.

There are signs that work still needs to be done. There are indications of some confusion among IT leaders about the benefits of SD-WAN, a growing feeling that some organisations feel it is less relevant to the burgeoning remote workplace that has emerged since lockdown. This makes SD-WAN selection more important than ever.

The net result is that SD-WAN suppliers are currently seeing significant increases in orders and deployments of appliances in residential locations to connect and secure remote workers. Security application visibility and performance tuning are regarded as key areas for 2020 growth.

For gigabit broadband, the picture is somewhat clearer. Access to ultra-high-speed broadband delivered by fibre or DOCSIS networks to homes and businesses has never been more important, now and in the future as the new normal of work rapidly becomes simply the normal. Fibre deployment, for one, is rapidly increasing across the major regions, Europe in particular.

And when it comes to networking, for bandwidth it is a case of more is more – SD-WAN giving professionals the ability to do more, more securely, in more places. When it comes to bandwidth, more is more.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 networking stories of 2020:

1. Masergy goes deeper with SASE to strengthen SD-WAN security

Supplier claims to offer the broadest choice in security solutions, best-of-breed technologies and a leading global network platform for businesses of all sizes.

2. BT taps VMware to launch global SD-WAN services

Incumbent UK telco aims to ensure global customers can benefit from flexibility and choice as they optimise networks for cloud services.

3. SD-WAN keeps Darling Ingredients on the table through Covid-19 pandemic

For some businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting need to support mass remote working will have accelerated something they began working on some time ago. Darling Ingredients is one such firm, whose SD-WAN roll-out puts it in good stead for the future.

4. UDG Healthcare deploys AT&T, Cisco SD-WAN to gain intelligent edge

Global healthcare group deploys software-defined wide area network to create additional operational efficiencies.

5. SD-WAN revealed as key enabler for ‘new normal’ remote workforces

Research from software-defined network and cloud platform provider shows the increased importance of software-defined infrastructure to the new work environment.

6. Openreach claims UK first as it moves from copper to full-fibre in Salisbury

Salisbury takes a step closer to becoming the UK’s first ‘fully digital’ city with full-fibre deployment.

7. BT: UK government’s national fibre target could be missed by eight years

Government is in danger of not realising its full-fibre coverage broadband ambitions, says telco, which had identified seven key policy, legislative and fiscal enablers to get the plan back on track.

8. Openreach adds 67 locations to broadband fibre build plan

Growth accelerates in UK full-fibre network, with 32,000 homes and businesses gaining full-fibre broadband access every week.

9. Mobile stable as UK full-fibre broadband increases significantly over first half of 2020

Second interim 2020 update to UK comms regulator’s examination of connectivity shows fibre and superfast broadband proliferate since March as millions remain at home to work, learn and be entertained during the pandemic.

10. UK rural full-fibre broadband network expanded further

Over three million more homes and businesses in rural areas of the UK given the opportunity to get ultra-reliable, gigabit-ready, full-fibre broadband by mid-2020s.

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