Two networking technologies – secure access service edge (SASE) and wireless— lead a list of six core trends that will impact enterprise infrastructure and operations activity in 2023, according to new research revealed by Gartner analysts at its IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference this week.
Implementing SASE, a term coined by Gartner, has been ongoing but is expected to grow substantially in the next year. Gartner forecasts that worldwide SASE spending will hit $9.2 billion in 2023, a 39% increase from 2022.
“The networking issues around SASE and wireless technologies show the growing changes infrastructure and operations teams have to incorporate in their planning now,” said Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president at Gartner.
“Hybrid work and the relentless shift to cloud computing has accelerated SASE adoption,” said Hewitt. “SASE allows users to connect to applications in a secure fashion and improves the efficiency of management. I&O teams implementing SASE should prioritize single-vendor solutions and an integrated approach.”
Single-vendor SASE means the provider owns and delivers all the essential SASE components—software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), network firewalling, and zero trust network access (ZTNA)—using a cloud-centric architecture, according to Gartner, which created the term SASE. The service is meant to address shortcomings of legacy methods of securing access to enterprise resources.
“The adoption of cloud and edge computing and work-from-anywhere initiatives has radically shifted access requirements,” Gartner wrote in a recent report. “For most organizations, there are now more users, devices, applications, services, and data located outside of an enterprise than inside. Attempts to use traditional perimeter-based approaches to securing anywhere, anytime access have resulted in a patchwork of vendors, policies, consoles and complex traffic routing, creating complexity for security administrators and users.”
Plan to integrate Wi-Fi, 5G, Bluetooth
On the wireless front Hewitt said infrastructure and operation teams should plan to use multiple wireless technologies and expand their use beyond just connectivity. Overlaps between various technologies including Wi-Fi, 5G, Bluetooth and high-frequency options creates innovation opportunities, he said.
“Wireless value innovation creates a scalable return on wireless investment and makes networks a strategic innovation platform,” said Hewitt. “However, there is significant complexity at play and several new skills that are required to achieve this innovation, such as wireless integration capabilities and wireless tracking implementation experience.”
Skill development for SASE and wireless technologies will be a growing challenge for infrastructure and operations teams as these trends evolve, Hewitt said.
At its recent IT Symposium/Xpo 2022 Gartner included wireless among in its 10 top strategic technology trends for 2023.
In that report, Gartner stated that no single wireless technology will dominate, but enterprises will use a variety of them to support a range of environments, including Wi-Fi in the office, services for mobile devices, low-power protocols, and even radio connectivity, Gartner stated. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60% of enterprises will be using five or more wireless technologies simultaneously.
“We’re going to see a spectrum of solutions in the enterprise—that includes 4G, 5G, LTE, WIFI 5, 6, 7—all of which will create new data enterprises can use in analytics, and low-power systems will harvest energy directly from the network,” Gartner stated.
The other four core infrastructure and operations trends:
Industry-specific cloud platforms
I&O teams will continue to integrate industry cloud platforms to develop specific solutions for their businesses, Hewitt said. Industry-specific cloud platforms offer a combination of software as-a-service (SaaS), platform as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure as-a-service (IaaS) that provide capabilities to support specific industry use cases. Enterprises can use these packaged capabilities as building blocks for differentiating digital-business initiatives and providing agility, innovation, and reduced time-to-market.
Organizations looking to accelerate time to value, leverage composability to build differentiating digital products and services and benefit from cross-industry innovations are turning to these offerings, Hewitt said. Gartner predicts that by 2027, more than 50% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate their business initiatives.
Gartner defines platform engineering as integrating management tools and various components of infrastructure technologies such as application resource management (ARM), application-performance monitoring, digital-experience monitoring, and digital-platform conductor tools.
“The idea is to pull together all of the things that enable the development of innovative products,” Hewitt said. “They have to be designed correctly for wherever they’re going to reside, whether it’s on premises, whether it’s in a public cloud—whatever—and I&O teams can enable that.”
This trend enables user-driven, self-service infrastructure and deployments that extend the principle of continuous integration and delivery, furthering I&O agility, speed, efficiency, safety, and compliance, Hewitt said.
“We’re back to this idea of tying into the business, building business cases for decisions that makes sense based on business objectives,” Hewitt said. “There’s a lifecycle-management element to the trend that I&O teams can make sure the company is not just spinning up things in the cloud that ended up costing money but that nobody’s using.”
Adopting practices such as automation can enable self-serviceability, Hewitt said.
Heated competition for skills
As skills for platform engineering, wireless, SASE and many other digital-related implementations grow so does the need for increased skills of I&O teams. Yet, there is a limited talent pool available for high-demand skills, including expertise in cloud, automation, and advanced analytics, Hewitt said.
Rapidly changing and distributed technology environments threaten to grow the IT talent gap. According to a Gartner survey last year, 64% of I&O leaders point to insufficient skills and resources as one of their greatest challenges.
At the same time, some organizations are creating I&O positions within business units, which increases internal competition for skills, Hewitt said.
“While competition for new skills creates more career opportunities for I&O leaders, it can also cause talent gaps within an organization to be more costly to fill and can create challenges retaining employees,” Hewitt said.
“I&O leaders must become more sophisticated in their thinking around the value proposition of their teams. Consider tools to identify upcoming skills requirements and new training approaches to enrich the skills of existing employees, to reduce the risk of them moving to other business units or competitors,” Hewitt said.
In a recent Gartner survey, CEOs reported that environmental and social changes are now in the top three priorities investors have after profit and revenue. This means that executives must invest more in innovative solutions that are designed to address environmental, social, and governance demand to meet sustainability goals.
This involves four key aspects: environmental, social, governance (ESG) and economic. With a recent Gartner survey revealing that 87% of business leaders expect to increase their organization’s investment in sustainability over the next two years, I&O must embrace sustainable technology to support organization-wide ESG goals.
“Part of what we are looking at with sustainably is doing more and making better use of the technology they already have for a more optimal period of time,” Hewitt said.
“I&O has an opportunity to be a key part of enterprise sustainability efforts,” said Hewitt. “From improving the sustainability of data centers and the cloud to embracing the IT circular economy for devices, I&O can promote sustainable technology by improving efficiency and performance of infrastructure assets.”