Time to bring the network up to speed - the key trends in networking for 2024
Kevin Drinkall, Director – Marketing and GTM Strategy, EMEA at Zyxel Networks, tells us what he believes will be the major trends in networking technology over the coming year.
Zyxel Networks expects 2024 to be a year of further progressive innovation in networking. We also expect it to be a year in which customers will make serious (and in many cases, much-needed) investments to upgrade wireless technologies.
It will be the year in which WiFi 7 emerges of course – and we also expect to see a lot more uptake of WiFi 6 and 6E. There are already a number of WiFi 7 access points on the market (we were one of the first to announce and make a product available1), and many more will be launched over the course of the year.
WiFi 7 is significantly faster and better at delivering consistent and reliable connectivity in dense environments. For SMBs and smaller offices though, WiFi 7 may be beyond the budgets of some, WiFi 6 or 6E will be more affordable and just as good an investment. It’s also worth noting that the majority of WiFi 6/6E and all WiFi 7 devices come with WPA3 protection, which provides enhanced security for both infrastructure and devices connecting wirelessly.
Multi-gig and simpler security
Another big trend will be the continued move to multi-gigabit switches that have the capability to deliver speeds of 2.5Gbps, 5Gbps and 10Gbps to connected devices. We’ll add to our multi-gig range in 2024 and enhance their PoE capabilities. Devices now being deployed at the network’s edge, such as WiFi 6/6E and WiFi 7 access points, along with devices like high-quality IP surveillance cameras with pan-zoom-tilt (PZT) capability, need additional power to run. This means an increase from 15.4W or 30W per port to 60W per port on a network switch (POE+ to POE++).
With network security, the key trend will be simplification. Every year, the threats to networks multiply and this has led to digital security solutions becoming more and more complex. While it is absolutely essential, that can be off-putting, especially for smaller businesses with no technical or cybersecurity expertise.
We see two parallel trends here in fact: a growing desire to make protecting the network simpler and a greater willingness to place the administration and management of security in the hands of professional experts.
Zyxel Networks has already responded to both developments. Our Connect and Protect initiative provides pre-defined cybersecurity set-ups for our devices, making deployment much more accessible. Through the ongoing development of our Nebula cloud management and our cybersecurity cloud platform, we’re providing additional and proactive protection against all kinds of threats. For example, we’ve already introduced collaborative detection and response (CDR). This feature checks for unsafe devices connected via WiFi and works with one of Zyxel Networks’ firewalls to contain them according to pre-set conditions.
Overarching all of this will be a move to higher bandwidth right across the network; the sophistication of applications, content and cloud-based services require that now. In 2024, it will be time to bring the network up to speed.
We will also see a continued move towards remote monitoring and management of networks, extending to configuration and installation. Far from being a new development, this is a growing trend that has been driven for some time by the increasing acceptance of managed services, a scarcity of advanced technical skills, and the increasing dependency that all organizations have on their IT systems, connectivity and networks.
With its enhanced capabilities – the extra security functions and the use of AI and machine learning to aid fault finding and resolution in particular – Nebula is becoming an all-encompassing, end-to-end solution through which the entire network (or multiple networks) can be monitored.
This is the longer-term direction for networking. Devices will be installed, configured and managed remotely and there will be much greater collaboration and sharing of functionality between switches, wireless access points and security appliances. In 2024, we will see networks progressing to the point where performance tuning and digital cybersecurity are fully integrated across all devices and everything is monitored and managed through the cloud.
- Zyxel Networks’ WBE660S WiFi 7 BE22K Triple-Radio NebulaFlex Pro Access Point was launched in October 2023 - see