Anticipating 2020 Tech

I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t already know when I say we’ll be hearing a lot about SDN, IoT, Edge Compute and Mobility this year.

We’re entering a new decade...a decade full of potential and promise. Promise of 5G deployment, proliferation of autonomous vehicles, robots in your home, high speed rails, biofuel alternatives, space travel, the list goes on. Realistically, though, in 2020 we’ll see technical advancements on concepts already in development that will become more common place. For channel partners, there is significant opportunity to help organizations change business process, data access, connecting locations and security with new network design and functionality.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is network technology for engineers and network administrators to respond to changing business requirements and control traffic easily from a centralized control console without using individual switches. Technologies that go into SDN are functional separation, automation/programmability and network virtualization. Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report says SDN solutions will exceed $100B by 2025. This comes with good reason, too. Hybrid cloud environments and cloud native applications need programmable networks to provision and configure virtual machines and applications. SaaS has forced WAN technologies like VPN, security, Wi-Fi and firewalls to be written into software layers which are being consumed as a service based on business needs. Additionally, increased IoT programs will lead to more implementations within private and hybrid clouds making SDN imperative for a variety of reasons like security and traffic segmentation. IoT programs also need a flexible and agile network to see, process and respond to data quickly.

SD-WAN adoption has exploded in recent years. Gartner says it only has 5% market share today, but with the expectation that it will jump to 25% within 2 years; it’s expected to be a $1.3B market this year. Multi-cloud environments are forcing organizations to reconfigure networks with SD-WAN to access cloud applications. What I’m hoping to see in 2020 is beefed up native security functionality in SD-WAN offerings.  

Anand Oswal, Senior Vice President of Engineering within Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business sees CSPs creating deeper partnerships with networking companies to enhance the linkage between networking stacks and services—improving on native functionality. He believes that SD-WAN is big business for MSPs offering SD-WAN as a Service.

Something I find incredibly fascinating that Oswal talks about is the intelligent network. In the relatively very near future, possibly this year, the network can be more than speeds and feeds and host software that profiles and classifies devices, end points and applications—placing devices into virtual networks automatically, enabling rule sets for device protection and identify security issues. The network could potentially remediate its own issues or file its own help desk ticket. He notes this could be really cool for wireless networks that could collect data from IoT device usage.

When speaking of mobility, many discuss 5G. But in actuality, we’re a bit far off from world-wide deployment. Instead, from a wireless technology business standpoint, Wi-Fi 6 has the most potential right now. Smartphones being shipped to companies around the world already with Wi-Fi 6 enabled will help transitions between wireless networks and LTE without interruption. With the advent of 5G and its residential rollout, businesses will benefit from the rollout of millimeter wave spectrum for fast, but short-range frequency. This could be really big when it comes to IoT applications and the network data from those devices. 5G will not have the ultra-high-speed connectivity in 2020, but preparation for it is enabling Wi-Fi 6 performance and we’ll see wireless traffic offloaded to Wi-Fi networks.

Statista shares that the global IoT market will increase from $2.9 trillion back in 2014 to $8.9 trillion this year. The collection and processing of data at the source of its creation with IoT will increase edge computing. Edge computing is about running and delivering mission critical apps outside of the data center. Predictions for its evolution include compute power into more tiny form factors with dedicated functions. It’s being predicted that this year, we will see reliance on hybrid cloud and edge compute strategies to collect, process and reduce data to then be uploaded to centralized data center or the cloud at a later date. AI requires data to be collected and processed almost instantaneously. With AI evolving, and expected to be a feature in 80% of all devices, dipping to the cloud for data and sending it back will not work for future innovation. This year, more businesses will look to edge computing to reduce bandwidth costs and improve network latency.

Industrial and automotive are the leading business sectors driving IoT innovation, with an annual IoT growth rate of 60%. In the coming year, we’ll see a lot of new functionality of infrastructure to support IoT programs as well as ways to analyze and treat unstructured data. The utilities industry represents the largest market for IoT endpoints with building automation soon to take its spot at the top. Gartner predicts 440 million endpoints this year. Additionally, this year we’ll see IoT advancements in smart city programs. McKinsey IoT Report states economic value generated by IoT will be between $3.9 and $11.1 trillion annually by 2025.

Of course, you can’t really talk about innovation without talking about risk. The biggest risk being security. IoT has notoriously been known for vulnerability; connected devices lead to new access attack points. With network adjustments to account for cloud consumption, IoT and 5G, data collection, storage and employee device management, it’s imperative that companies no matter the size, establish an end-to-end security posture, securing infrastructure and endpoints. Stay tuned for more on security and helpful tools from TBI to support your customers over the next few months.

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As VP of Marketing at TBI, Cohen is responsible for managing TBI’s marketing communications and implementing multi-channel branding and press strategies. In addition to driving TBI’s overall marketing strategy, Cohen directs both internal and external communications to ensure the delivery of valued products and programs to providers and partners alike. You can contact Corey at or connect with her on LinkedIn.