Another year is in the books. As we all rush to close out 2018, taking a moment to reflect upon the latest industry trends is always a good exercise.

Security: NGFW Still Making an Impact
Firewall migration from legacy port/protocol to application-aware (aka “layer 7” or next-generation) continues at a fast clip. The need for organizations to understand the traffic in and out of their networks has only increased in 2018. Where we see the market needing assistance is proper configuration, installation and maintenance of these new devices. Having the firewall watch web traffic for who’s on Facebook vs. Skype is fine, but make sure you’ve fully deployed their advanced features—proper ingress and egress rules, SSL decryption, proper zones, etc.—and make sure that somebody is watching and responding appropriately. Breaches will continue, unfortunately. The only potential upside is that this will expose our need to drive further into automation and orchestration tools (more on that later).

Security, IoT and Others: Services, Services, Services
Our VAR community and our suppliers agree: We need more qualified people to install, maintain and monitor all these things. On the flip side of this, utilizing services personnel to bring in revenue is an ongoing challenge. Where we see an opportunity is to provide distribution-delivered services through our VAR community, allowing for project-based or long-term offerings to both bolster their bench and mitigate the utilization challenges.

Closely tied to this is the continued expansion of Security-as-a-Service. Beyond just firewall monitoring, the leaders in this space are providing actual security detection, guidance, response and planning, as well as real-time health and security checks of firewalls, endpoints and the underlying infrastructure, while understanding each business’s needs and risk posture.

Security, IoT and OT: Solutions Plays
At our recent Partner Council, several partners told us that they wanted us to help them find, define and evangelize market-ready solutions. These aren’t “X+Y” type things, or “bolt these two things together” actions, but actual reference architectures, with business outcomes, using disparate vendors, products and design, that accomplish things like smart buildings or digital retail experiences, vs. security and networking controls. While the underlying building blocks will leverage both our’s and our partners’ line cards and skillsets, end-customers are asking for things that “just work” or are turnkey and ready to run. In 2019, you’ll see Arrow focus in this space, especially with our extensive IoT experience. We will also introduce partners to a services delivery community that specializes in the services required to implement and maintain these solutions.

Cloud: Born There, Moved There, Been There/Done That?
For many “bleeding edge” companies, cloud is just another data center or another workload to manage. While cloud migration is a buzzphrase, the feedback we’ve received is that it’s not as much about moving workloads as it is creating new workloads on a cloud platform. When old systems and processes are at their end-of-life, in some cases, a new, cloud-based platform makes more business sense. In these instances, you’re able to deprecate old systems and start fresh, without the painful re-architecture, refactoring and underlying challenges of such a move.

Cost remains a huge driver for cloud. Where companies can save money in hardware, personnel or support, cloud is attractive if performance is adequate. It’s interesting that in many cases, the industry has accepted a certain level of failure or performance issues for non-mission-critical systems and users. As the major cloud providers continue to improve, I predict that the guarantees for uptime and reliability will become a point of competition between them.

We are seeing more interest in new technologies for hyperscale and ease of deployment. The latest iterations of true hybrid cloud that allow one toolset for managing on-premises and cloud workloads will likely drive further cloud consumption. If cloud vendors can make moving data and workloads truly seamless between their platforms and entice customers to move to their platform and to position themselves as not being a “lock-in,” we’ll see attrition in both the smaller cloud providers and likely some increased competitive moves from the large providers.

Analytics: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision
Data analytics, business intelligence, machine learning, artificial intelligence (whatever you want to call it) it’s making serious changes in how businesses make decisions and do business. It’s also very difficult. Analytics need to be simpler – or at least the tools do. More abstraction of toolsets from datasets, better modeling options and the rise of “Scientists-as-a-Service” will help. A few natural language platforms are showing up on the scene and these will make a difference in the adoption rate. As more and more IoT and new-edge sensors generate massive volumes of data, the ability to interpret and use this data will drive the need for easily accessible tools.

Automation and Orchestration or SOAR (Security Orchestration and Automation Response)
As we look back across 2018, automation and orchestration have come from out of the niche of DevOps and into the security space. The combination of a lack of trained personnel, the increasing amount of attacks (becoming more and more automated themselves) and the increasing pressure from private business and the specter of government mandates around security and potential penalties have really made their mark – if not in full production, in business planning, strategy and mindshare. Allowing automated systems to detect, decide and respond based on a strict set of criteria according to a business’s risk posture is a bit unnerving for some – but it’s the way forward. We will continue to see more and more automation tools that go beyond REST APIs or scripted events.

Looking Forward: What’s On the Horizon?
As always, my crystal ball is a bit hazy. But as I’ve talked with our community of partners and suppliers, several things are clear.

  • The pace of change is increasing
  • Security has become a must-have and needs to be built-in
  • Business outcomes outweigh technology

Some of this isn’t news – and those are easy predictions, really. But it’s clear that networking teams, security teams and infrastructure teams are antiquated. Also, a VAR that only focuses on one space is ripe for disruption or losing ground with their customers. Understanding business needs, market drivers and how to leverage technology in order to drive revenue, reduce costs or achieve compliance are major advantages for any VAR today. Automating the simple things—server and desktop provisioning, user onboarding/setup, security responses and EDR/MDR actions—will allow companies to move ahead vs. being mired in repetitive and non-profitable quagmires.

Arrow will be there with you in 2019 – we’re taking these steps along with you and would love to help you achieve these things! Contact any of our global practice leaders, along with myself, Davitt Potter, at or +1-720-722-0489.

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By Davitt Potter
Global Practice Lead

Last modified: May 3, 2019