Top 10 networking stories of 2023

This year has seen the continued adoption of software-defined wide area networks and secure access service edge as firms phase out multi-protocol label switching infrastructures, with artificial intelligence also stepping into the networking limelight

Almost four years since the biggest disruption to business life for knowledge workers, hybrid working is now firmly established in companies of all sizes.

After the pandemic prompted firms to make an almost overnight pivot to support remote working, the necessity of dealing with a hybrid workforce has changed how modern IT and networking leaders go about ensuring their business can cope with the demands of the modern workspace. The now permanent shift to cloud services is supporting distributed, centralised management within the broader context of the extended business.

This means the absolute necessity for hybrid workplace environments to be based on resilient and robust infrastructures and securely managing networks, potentially across multiple international sites and datacentres. For most businesses, to keep employees productive and able to collaborate, this will mean transforming processes rather than just implementing technology.

In terms of individual networking technologies, 2023 has seen the continued adoption of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), along with the commensurate rise of its next evolutionary step, secure access service edge (SASE), as firms phase out multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) infrastructures.

Another key technological trend has been the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) into networking services, including not only collaboration and contact centre environments to boost user and customer experiences, but also to act as an essential assistant in assessing networking management and observability. To offer the improvement expected by customers, managing networks effectively has become more crucial.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 networking stories of 2023.

1. Expereo on tap for Carlsberg to deliver connectivity in 40 countries

The Carlsberg Group, the world’s third-largest brewer, has chosen intelligent internet company Expereo to manage its internet connectivity in 40 countries at 160 sites in support of its global digital transformation journey.

The SD-WAN/SASE and internet provider said it was selected to implement and manage a new internet underlay network to ensure “seamless” performance wherever Carlsberg employees, partners and customers are located.

2. Orange Business shifts towards digital, aims to transform SD-WAN

Orange Business has announced plans to transform from a business-to-business technology player to a network and digital integrator as it aims to “shift the dial” on digital for businesses.

The company said it was reacting to five major industry trends and would execute on four strategic priorities to achieve its ambitions. Orange Business also announced that it was teaming with VMware to deliver flexible software-defined wide area networking in Evolution Platform.

3. MPLS and SD-WAN fail to meet needs of modern enterprise

A sea change in networking that happens every 10 or 11 years saw the arrival of MPLS in 2000, and another inflection point in the industry is set to break existing edge technologies – not just MPLS, but also its roundly acknowledged evolution, SD-WAN, according to the 2023 state of network edge survey from Graphiant.

One of the survey’s key findings was that three years ago, enterprises saw enterprise connectivity as their major goal. Today, cloud connectivity and connecting to partners and customers have emerged as strong secondary goals. In three years, enterprises anticipate these three use cases will hold equal importance. 

4. Aryaka expands SD-WAN, SASE offer to SMEs

Despite the increased popularity over the past three years of SD-WAN and subsequently SASE, thanks mainly to the large Covid-driven surge in hybrid working, the services have not yet seen great uptake in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To address this, Aryaka is now tailoring its offerings for such an audience.

Aryaka believes SMEs face several challenges when it comes to networking and security, including limited budgets, a lack of skilled IT resources and a need for operational simplicity. 

5. Carlsberg turns tap on massive global SASE deployment

The Carlsberg Group is the world’s third largest brewer, but having cheered massive growth and reach, the company is suffering the hangover of a legacy network, leading to security risks and application disruptions. To address these issues, the company has turned to Cato Networks for a single-supplier SASE deployment.

The new SASE setup gives Carlsberg one platform and one security policy worldwide, protecting all edges – sites with SD-WAN devices, the cloud with native cloud connectivity, and mobile users running the Cato Client.

6. Orange juices JDE expansion with SD-WAN

Coffee company Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) has deployed an Orange Business Services secure end-to-end connectivity offering for more than 120 locations worldwide, based on flexible SD-WAN technology.

As it carries on with its global mission, JDE said it wanted a highly scalable infrastructure that could fulfil both its bespoke requirements and growing business demands into the future. Flexible SD-WAN is said to have already demonstrated its value early on by supporting JDE’s merger and acquisition activities following its recently acquired company in the Asia-Pacific region. 

7. Netskope claims hybrid work ‘revolution’ with SASE and SD-WAN

Arguing that as organisations apply modern application management to meet the demands of hybrid work, they often battle poor user experience, inconsistent policy, insufficient security and the limitations of legacy network solutions, Netskope has launched software to provide secure, optimised access to endpoint devices from anywhere.

The Netskope Endpoint SD-WAN will be based on what the company says is the industry’s first software-based unified SASE client, converging SD-WAN and security service edge capabilities so organisations can reduce cost and complexity, simplify connectivity, eliminate the sprawl of multiple clients and point products, and preserve network performance at any scale.

8. Hybrid flexibility the leading driver underpinning successful work experiences

Three years after Covid-19 changed the shape of working life, firms are implementing more structured approaches to work. But while 90% of businesses see the enablement of hybrid and remote work as having a positive impact on their bottom line, less than half believe their employees have access to the technology they need to work well both at home and in the office, according to a study from NTT.

NTT found that approximately 56% of hybrid workers spend half the working week at the office. Yet with hybrid work models still favourable and recognised by the majority of business leaders as fundamental to positive employee experiences, the study warned that businesses need to ensure they are providing staff with the technologies they need to work effectively, regardless of location.

9. Nimo Planet completes spatial computing system for hybrid work

Spatial computer technology provider Nimo Planet has unveiled new platforms that it believes will create a spatial computer for productivity, enabling people to work across multiple screens in a virtual workspace.

The Nimo Operating System (Nimo OS) and Nimo Core compact computer, along with the existing Nimo Glass, now complete the company’s portable spatial computing system, combining to bring what the company claims will be a personalised, multi-screen expansive workspace experience for hybrid workforces.

10. AI to drive Zoom to new levels in 2024

Noting that “great teams do everything together”, Zoom Video Communications has plotted a course for the early part of 2024, aiming to take advantage of investments in AI-based customer experience technologies and services to continue its stated mission to redraw the modern hybrid workspace and give back to businesses one of their most valuable commodities: time.

Given that it was on the verge of a key enhancement of its offer in a matter of months, Zoom said a fundamental aspect of its approach going forward would be to address the issue that a lot of hybrid workers still don’t feel the technologies are working on their behalf.

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