Let’s lay it on the table: I’m really bad at predicting long-term trends.

When I first saw a web browser, more than 20 years ago, I thought it was a crazy idea that would never catch on. I once refused to buy Google stock because I didn’t think they would catch on.

So it would be smart to take my predictions with a large grain of salt.

Having said that, my shorter-term predictions are a little more reliable, and I’ve been noticing a few things going on in networking and security that I expect to get bigger in 2015. Here are 8 networking trends to keep your eye on this year.

  1. The IoT will get hacked. A lot.
  2. I predict 2015 will be the year we start to see a lot of security breaches in the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT). All those home security and HVAC control systems, all those smart TVs and refrigerators, and even IP phones and printers have embedded operating systems with web servers that are accessible over the network. And nobody has ever paid the slightest attention to the security of any of them.

    I expect we’ll see hackers causing serious havoc with these devices in 2015, forcing everybody to rethink their internal firewalling strategies in the corporate world and even in home networks.

  3. Zero-trust network design will take off.
  4. Due to the rise in security breaches, I expect we’ll see a lot more of a newly popular concept in network design called zero trust.

    The idea of zero trust is to separate the key components of the corporate network infrastructure and to strictly control all traffic between them. User workstations are not allowed to communicate directly with servers or printers or really much of anything without first going through a firewall that enforces tight access controls.

    The big problem with zero-trust design is that it requires some very powerful firewalls inside the corporate network just to handle normal internal traffic volumes.

  5. Antivirus software will die … finally.
  6. Antivirus software is an obsolete technology and its demise is long overdue. Today, the malware typically being used to compromise networks is designed to keep re-encrypting itself so it never has the same signatures. So the whole method of looking for malware by signatures is completely ineffective. Finding malware now requires catching malicious behavior.

    Besides, IoT devices use embedded operating systems that can’t run antivirus software.

  7. We’ll see more speed in the data center.
  8. In the data center, the trends are pretty easy to spot. First, we’ll see more and more 40GB Ethernet links between switches, and likely an increasing number of 100GB links too.

    These higher bandwidth links, combined with concepts like zero trust, mean we’ll need better, faster firewalls. Firewall vendors need to get with the program—I think they know they’re lagging behind the throughput demands on data center firewalls.

  9. Fiber channel will start to disappear.
  10. We’ll also see that faster Ethernet being increasingly used for Fiber Channel Over Ethernet (FCoE) storage connectivity. This will spell the death of traditional fiber channel, which just hasn’t kept up with throughput demands.

    Storage people have told me that fiber channel’s lagging performance isn’t really an issue because individual disk speeds are much slower. But I think the aggregated storage traffic throughput between a large, private cloud cluster and a large SAN could easily become congested on conventional fiber channels links. Higher bandwidth FCoE storage connectivity requirements are inevitable.

  11. Virtualization and outsourcing to the cloud will continue to grow.
  12. The great advantage of the cloud is that it gives you a whole lot more flexibility and frees you up from capacity planning. You just use what you need when you need it.

    But for applications with high performance or high security requirements, it’s pretty clear organizations still need internal servers. In that case, the easiest and most flexible way to deploy servers is through virtualization and internal private clouds.

    So no matter how you slice it, cloud and virtualization services will be big in 2015.

  13. There will be way more apps.
  14. Online, I expect we’ll see the mobile app market continuing to explode. It’ll be interesting to see if the increasing market fragmentation by mobile device will continue. Do we really need five different apps to read the news and another three to figure out which route to take home from work? Or will the data aggregators finally start to take hold?

  15. And those apps will have security issues.
  16. The security of mobile apps will almost certainly become more important in 2015. The problem is that all of these apps need to be separately secured and validated. And the adware they rely on will become an ever-increasing security threat.

    What I’d really like to see, on the Android OS in particular, is the ability to enforce security restrictions. I’d love to be able to restrict what my apps can access at run time. No, you can’t access my address book. No, you can’t mysteriously call home whenever you want. No, I don’t want in-app purchases. No, leave my GPS coordinates alone, thank you. Those are suspicious activities, and I want to be able to stop them.

Put it all together and what do you get?

All these constantly growing bandwidth and security requirements we’ve been talking about will force more and more Internet content into the cloud. I expect cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Google will be very big winners in 2015.

Kevin Dooley

About Kevin Dooley

Kevin has 15+ years of experience as a network engineer. He has designed and implemented several of the largest and most sophisticated enterprise data networks in Canada and written several highly regarded books on networking for O'Reilly and Associates, including Designing Large-Scale LANs and Cisco IOS Cookbook. Kevin holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and numerous industry certifications.

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