Veriflow’s Top Network Predictions for 2018

As organizations continually look to change and evolve their networks, they will continue to introduce more complexity into their environments. With this in mind, we see a few trends remaining and new ones emerging in 2018 as teams look to provide continual business assurance. Take a look below for these trends and check out our infographic, Network Complexity and Change – Breaking the Cycle in 2018.

1. Catastrophic Network Failures Due to change induced incidents will Increase as Network Complexity Increases
As organizations strive to deliver increasingly advanced technology services to their customers, they are putting immense strain on their corporate networks. However, this network distress is only a small part of the story; 97 percent of network professionals agree that changes are the root cause of most network outages. This means that the top challenge facing enterprise IT departments lies in understanding the source of network failures and then predicting future network catastrophes before they occur. Until organizations move away from manual network processes to automated solutions that can verify network intent prior to pushing a change live, catastrophic network failures will continue to be headline news in the coming year.

2. As Enterprises Grow in 2018, so Will the Opportunities for Attackers
Most enterprises today have a significant network security stack on top of their core networking infrastructure devices to protect themselves from being attacked. They often have a next-generation firewall, endpoint protection, intrusion detection, data loss protection, deception, a security information and event manager and more, yet we still read stories every day about how a bad guy found a way to get past all of that. Much of this is due not to the failure of the security systems themselves but to the complex environments in which they are deployed and managed. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021 and that global cybersecurity spending will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021. These year-over-year spending increases to prevent cybercrime will compound complexity as more security devices are layered into the data center and network.

This outcome should not be so surprising when we look at the math. In a relatively small data center with 1,001 network infrastructure devices (servers, firewalls, load balancers, etc.), each device may need to talk with any of the other 1,000 devices (or with network ports), so the number of distinct end-to-end paths that must be managed and verified is: #paths = (#sources) x (#destinations) = 1001 x 1000 = 1,001,000

And that number could be in the billions for somewhat larger but still realistically-sized networks. For example, one with 100,000 servers or ports would have about 10 billion distinct end-to-end paths. All you need is one misconfiguration on one of those paths to open a vulnerability that could lead to the exposure of credit-card data, social-security numbers, customer addresses, medical records and more.

3. Next Year We’ll See the First Companies Hit with GDPR Violations
May 25, 2018, marks the day when enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new EU data compliance mandate, will begin. After that, organizations found in non-compliance will face punitive regulatory fines and penalties – to the tune of up to €20 million or four percent of revenues. In fact, Consult Hyperion, a research firm, has estimated that European financial firms alone may face GDPR-related fines of $5.3 billion in the first three years after the regulation becomes effective.

With less than a year until this looming deadline, many U.S. organizations with connections to Europe are now finding their backs against a wall. Among their laundry list of security checks, they now need to identify potential security problems in their network environment and know how to quickly remediate them in order to be GDPR-compliant. As we’ve seen time and again, even fully compliant organizations are not immune to hostile forces that have put a target on their backs.

4. Expect to See an Increase in Organizations Migrating Towards Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is many things to many people… an ideology, a trend, a buzzword, a movement. Organizations aren’t just gravitating towards it; customers are demanding it. And if you’re not on board, your competitors soon will be.

According to IDC, by the end of 2017 two-thirds of the CEOs of Global 2000 companies will have digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategy. Progress estimates that 85 percent of enterprise decision makers feel they have a timeframe of two years to make significant inroads on their digital transformation before suffering financially and/or falling behind their competitors.

Today organizations are either in the process of making that transformational leap or trying to figure out how to do it without breaking the entire corporate network. Multi-cloud adoption is still the biggest factor in increased network complexity, along with software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), which add the complexity of virtualization and microsegmentation.

As enterprises look to open their borders to share data with partners and vendors as part of their digital journey, or to merge data centers, there is real potential to create outages and errors. And as they look to engineer their networks to match the needs of digital businesses, even those who originally set up the network need a way to think about and look beyond network devices to see how the network is currently configured.

Intent-based networking (IBN) offers a credible solution to better buttoning-up corporate networks and supporting organizations migrating towards digital transformation. We predict that in the coming year we will see a rise in automated systems that will leverage machine learning and start down the path to IBN. According to a recent article in TechTarget, this automation will “enable communications between servers and applications and allow systems to decide how to run highly routine tasks. Intent-based networking must also treat networks as a single entity, with interoperability a critical consideration. Additionally, intent-based networking will require the evolution of robust artificial intelligence.”

To learn how you can embrace change in the new year and provide business assurance with Continuous Network Verification, take a look at our whitepaper, Network verification: Key to providing business assurance.