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Gavin Wood, CTO at Chess, summarises some of the key tech trends for 2021

2021 is the year to become cloud-native

2020 pushed organisations to transform their business models and align their approach to the digital-natives way of working. In 2021, the need to work from anywhere will still be present, increasing the demand to adopt cloud-native and additional network services. I expect an even further increase in cyberattacks making the latest-gen antimalware technologies compulsory for organisations of all sizes and sectors.

Cloud-native services

Cloud services powered the global economy through the coronavirus pandemic. They underpinned business strategy, impacting everything from homeschooling (via Google Classroom, for example) to every aspect of life, including the colossal shift to home delivery. However, just "being in the cloud" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone and doesn't always offer the full benefits associated with cloud services.

In 2021, we will continue to see the shifting of workloads to the cloud. The lift and shift approach should be avoided if possible, and companies should adopt a cloud-native approach. Building applications to take advantage of cloud-native services ensures that we can realise cloud computing's actual benefits. For example, using a cloud-native database service such as Azure SQL as a service is preferable to running a VM with SQL server installed. Managed database services take care of scalability, backup, and high availability leaving you to focus on what matters - your organisation. Cloud services also offer benefits that may not be directly apparent. Running a properly hosted service for your Line of business applications, your cloud-native back-office solution, and a cloud-based telephony platform ensures that your people can work from anywhere with minimal disruption to you and your customers if you need to invoke your disaster recovery or business continuity plan.

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Working from home and anywhere operations

Given the world's current situation, we will continue seeing an increase in home working and a blend of physical and virtual presence within organisations. If people didn't know what a Teams call or Zoom meeting was before the pandemic started, they do now! Furthermore, to support this work from anywhere trend, we will observe a continuous, wide adoption of additional solutions. Security technologies such Zero Trust, Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), Firewall as a Service and networking technologies such as SD Wan, Bandwidth Aggregation and WAN optimisation will start to be bundled together (often under the acronym of SASE, Secure Access Services Edge). Combine this SASE approach with Microsoft 365 to allow your people to efficiently access business resources and reduce complexity and cost without compromising security.

Increase in attacks and adoption of latest-gen antimalware technologies

Although the evidence points to a state-sponsored attack, the tools and techniques used in the SolarWinds scenario will enter the wild and be exploited by hackers/hacking groups looking for new opportunities to target businesses. Ransomware attacks remain rife. While we still see the less effective shotgun approach, hackers are moving to more sophisticated low and slow attacks with cybercriminals "living off the land" in a bid to go undetected. Organisations must start thinking not if, but, when. Deployment of AI-backed Antimalware with MDR technologies should be the new default minimum level of protection.

Given my statements above regarding migration to the cloud, 2020 saw the rapid adoption of new technologies for many businesses alongside infrastructure changes to enable cloud adoption or home-working practices. In 2021, we should be revisiting these changes with our security teams and partners. Organisations should be reviewing and testing their infrastructure to ensure there are no gaps in the network and that it's not compromised during what will have undoubtedly been a challenging year for all IT teams.

About the author


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