2020 — it’s the start of a new year, a new decade (though some might find this debatable), and a new era of data centers. No one knows exactly what the future will bring, but Mission Critical magazine spoke with several industry experts — on topics ranging from cybersecurity and the upcoming election to 5G and cloud service selection — to catch a glimpse of their outlooks. Here’s what they had to say.


“The biometrics industry will experience significant growth in the coming years. In 2020, biometric authentication for in-person transactions, particularly for travel and physical access to locations, will become more common. Governments at all levels will need to define a regulatory framework to allow for innovation and convenience while safeguarding individual privacy and establishing guardrails against surveillance.” — Blake Hall, CEO and founder, ID.me

“Before we see adequate regulation and security to protect biometric data, there are going to be some unlucky people whose biometric information is stolen and used for repeat fraud. If your credit card details are stolen, you can easily change your account number. But what if your face gets stolen? Once that information is compromised, there’s no swapping it out. Before the industry catches up and understands how to properly protect it, we’re going to see the consequences of the increased adoption of biometrics.” — James Carder, CSO and vice president, LogRhythm Labs

“Threat actors are always enhancing their current tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) as well as creating new ones in order to infiltrate businesses and steal data, implant ransomware, and more. One technique that will continue to gain traction in 2020 is lateral phishing. This scheme involves a threat actor launching a phishing attack from a corporate email address that was already previously compromised. Even the savviest security-minded folks can be lulled into a false sense of security when they receive an email asking for sensitive information from an internal source — particularly from a C-level executive. As we will continue to see cybercriminals refining their attack methods in 2020, companies must be prepared.” — Anurag Kahol, CTO and co-founder, Bitglass

“Election security will be an open wound that can’t be healed in time for the 2020 election. There is still bad blood from the 2016 election, which has created a social distrust of technology, and there is not enough time to strengthen the integrity of the election system in such a way that the electorate can be confident in the outcome. This begs the question: Will there be public faith and acceptance of the outcome of the 2020 election, and, if not, what will happen? Public concern will serve as a springboard for the federal government as well as state/county election officials to enact real change and significant improvements to cybersecurity of election infrastructure before the 2024 election.” — Christopher Kennedy, CISO and vice president of customer success, AttackIQ

"2020 will be the year that we see a deeper integration of security and WAN technology. Historically, the network has always come first, and then security is bolted on to protect it. We're rapidly heading toward a security-first and connectivity-second approach — the total opposite of how the Internet was designed." Josh Flinn, director of product strategy and innovation, Cybera

“Ransomware continues to be easy cash for hackers, recently reaching an average payout of $41,000. Given ransomware’s proven track record, it’s time for hackers to take it to new markets. Critical infrastructure is a prime target. While most ransomware isn’t built to target this type of infrastructure, it can still be used in those environments, and shutting down a power grid is certainly going to yield a significantly higher than average payout — not to mention it could lay the foundation of distrust in the government’s ability to protects its citizens. Critical infrastructure is due for another significant breach anyway, making 2020 the perfect opportunity to introduce ransomware into this space.” — James Carder, CSO and vice president, LogRhythm Labs

“In 2019, over 50 tech CEOs came together, urging U.S. lawmakers to create a federal data privacy legislation. Why? Because of the continued regulatory sprawl across international, national, and state standards. Managing cybersecurity should not be as complicated as adhering to the IRS tax code. Breaches continue to be a pervasive problem, and the complexities of applying various and overlapping regulations in a globally-connected world are not helping. To this end, we’ll see some consolidation of regulatory requirements and standards in 2020.” — Christopher Kennedy, CISO and vice president of customer success, AttackIQ

"In recent years, CISOs have gotten much desired access to the board of directors, yet have struggled to speak in a language that resonates. This has limited the value of their exposure to the board, with many struggling to achieve the appropriate backing for their initiatives. In 2020, CISOs will recognize that business leaders will never understand technical security details such as threats and vulnerabilities, and will begin to leverage education and new tools to communicate business risk and economic exposure to the board." — Gaurav Banga, CEO and founder, Balbix

"Consumers already log in to dozens of protected resources everyday: from email, banking and financial accounts, social media, healthcare, government accounts, and beyond. To save time and remember their credentials for all these sites, consumers reuse the same username and password across several sites. Users can also put their employer at risk of being breached if they use the same login credentials across personal and professional accounts. To eliminate this issue, passwordless authentication methods, such as using out-of-band steps on smartphones that leverage push notifications, will become widely adopted. In fact, Gartner estimates that 60% of large and global enterprises, as well as 90% of midsize organizations, will leverage passwordless methods in over 50% of use cases by 2022. Companies that properly implement passwordless authentication will not only be more secure, but they subsequently improve the overall user experience by reducing friction in the login process." — Ben Goodman, senior vice president, ForgeRock and CISSP


“5G is coming, and although it may seem like the next generation of wireless tech will bring nothing but speed, responsiveness, and the reach needed to unlock the full capabilities of emerging tech trends, in actuality, it will introduce unprecedented pain points — and those without a current solution.” — Patrick Hubbard, head geek, SolarWinds

“The world economy is going through a pivotal moment with the introduction of Industrial 4.0 and associated technologies. Artificial intelligence and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will continue to play an important role in this new revolution, while associated technology, like 5G or blockchain, would act as catalysts for its wide adoption across different domains and functions.” — Soudip Chowdhary, CEO, Eugenie.ai 


“Escalating public cloud costs have forced enterprises to reprioritize the evaluation criteria for their cloud services, with higher efficiency and lower costs now front and center. The highly elastic nature of the public cloud means that cloud services can (but don’t always) release resources when not in use. And services which deliver the same unit of work with higher performance are, in effect, more efficient and cost less. In the on-premises world of over-provisioned assets, such gains are hard to reclaim. But, in the public cloud, time really is money. This has created a new battleground where cloud services are competing on the dimension of service efficiency to achieve the lowest cost per compute, and 2020 will see that battle heat up.” Tomer Shiran, co-founder and CEO, Dremio

"The potential for catastrophic cloud data events will continue to climb in 2020. As the use of cloud applications continues to grow, small- and medium-sized enterprises will move and collect massive amounts of data in the cloud — spread across more applications than ever. Unfortunately, as they try to force more apps to work together and integrate data across a variety of applications, businesses will also be opening their data up to more risks, as these tools may not play nicely with each other, especially as updates are made to their APIs. I expect 2020 will be the year that stories of cloud data loss and resulting business debacles run rampant." —Mike Potter, CEO, Rewind 

“Multi-cloud strategies are here to stay. Companies are increasingly adopting more than one platform — either for financial leverage or to create a time-to-market or feature ‘race’ between the platforms. To remain competitive, public cloud providers must offer unique features or capabilities, differentiating them from competitors. This has created an upsurge in new and more complex technologies, increasing the need for application performance management tool adoption. 2020 will bring an ever-increasing demand for APM tools and services.” — David Wagner, senior manager of product marketing – application management, SolarWinds

“The most exciting and innovative databases are leveraging hardware innovation to bring the next levels of price and performance. The cloud enables this innovation. Cloud companies roll forward their hardware plans without on-premises installations, and users can trial innovative hardware easily and experience the power of innovation. You’ll be running your databases on more and more specialized hardware, but you’ll never even know it.” — Brian Bulkowski, CTO , Yellowbrick Data

“2020 will be a milestone year for edge computing now that so much of the foundational work has quietly been done behind the scenes over the past year. One of the key things to watch for will be the first commercial edge deployments, which will signify we’ve moved into a new phase in the maturation of the industry. Edge computing won’t be the only place where big things are happening though. Cloud and hyperscale data center leasing will see a major bounceback in 2020. It will be the storm after the lull, so to speak, as these companies look to expand capacity once again to meet the growth they are projecting in 2020 and the new decade.” — Chris Crosby, CEO, Compass Datacenters


“Gartner predicts there will be approximately 20 billion IoT-connected devices by 2020. As IoT networks swell and become more advanced, the resources and tools that managed them must do the same. Companies will need to adopt scalable storage solutions to accommodate the explosion of data that promises to outpace current technology’s ability to contain, process, and provide valuable insights.” — Bob Moul, CEO, Circonus,

“Multi-cloud and multi-premises will continue to dominate the IT reality in 2020. The pervasive use of IT across departments within organizations are forcing IT siloes to break down, resulting in tech pros from different teams needing to work together to support business objectives like productivity and performance. Add to this the challenge of managing highly distributed and multi-environment applications and infrastructures, and the path ahead for tech pros can appear increasingly daunting. As businesses evolve, tech pros are tiring of the proliferation of ‘best-of-breed’ tools from different vendors and are, instead, looking toward integrated solutions to give them the ability to manage environments inside their firewall as well as hybrid and public-cloud environments. Visibility needs to be centralized to support modern, multi-cloud, and multi-premises architectures, with an integrated view showing dependencies and relationships between applications and the infrastructure on which they depend. Only then can tech pros not only understand performance metrics across the business but speak a common IT language as they bridge previously siloed functions.” — Sacha Dawes, product expert, SolarWinds

“When it comes to digital transformation, there are parallels between what smart cities and enterprises are doing. Smart cities and innovative enterprises alike are using technology as an agent of change. As demand for digital experiences grows in 2020, enterprises will start to realize there’s more to learn from smart cities.” — Patrick Hubbard, head geek, SolarWinds

“In 2020, the 'digital transformation' conversation that has become commonplace across IT will extend into the customer service center. We will begin to see the impact and value of support data being shared across the enterprise. Customer feedback, sentiment, profile data, and more will be securely shared across organizations, helping teams such as marketing, sales, and product development to make more strategic decisions. And as a result, the importance and value of customer support will be elevated as a whole." — Anand Janefalkar, founder and CEO, UJET

“Between random forests, linear regression, and other search patterns, AI has become a standard technique. AI, like standard numeric techniques, is best done with compute close to data. This means the techniques of “big data” (separating compute and data) are a poor choice just like they were for a majority of analytics. Running AI as code on a compute grid, or within your database, does not allow the kinds of optimizations that an AI framework, or an AI-centric query system can provide. In 5 years, we’ll wonder why custom code lasted so long in the AI space.” — Brian Bulkowski, CTO, Yellowbrick Data

"Learning from the mistakes of Marriott, companies going through M&A deals in 2020 will prioritize comprehensive evaluations of cybersecurity and risk. Before Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016, it was reported that Starwood suffered a breach of North American customers’ credit and debit card data after threat actors implanted malware on the company’s point-of-sale registers. Eventually, Marriott became aware of its breach of about 383 million Starwood guests’ data when a security tool flagged a database query from an unauthorized user whom had admin privileges. The company later found out that the intrusion went undetected for four years before Marriott even acquired Starwood, however, Marriott still had to pay more than $120 million to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for violating GDPR, and the hotel giant can even face additional punishments from other data privacy mandates, including the soon-to-be-enforced CCPA. While M&A is an important part of many companies’ growth plans, organizations will become increasingly wary of suffering a similar fate as Marriott. In 2020, organizations will place cloud security at the forefront of the M&A process including thorough audits of how the acquisition or merger target is operating cloud services. In a multi-cloud world, companies will need solutions that provide complete visibility across all clouds and cloud services, and an approach to bringing these into their security and compliance posture via automation." — Chris DeRamus, CTO and founder, DivvyCloud

"2019 saw a lot of enterprises experimenting with artificial intelligence. Many of these experiments led to the realization that it requires a lot of time and expertise to implement AI successfully. In 2020, we will see some of those experiments start to pay off, as enterprises refocus their AI efforts on areas where it saves time and money — such as examining x-rays, automating customer service with chatbots, and simplifying driving via semi-autonomous vehicles. But other AI projects will be abandoned, as it becomes clear that AI is not the most effective approach — such as email security, where AI-powered security systems often miss phishing attacks and BEC scams; and identifying fake news, where AI-powered tools have also missed the mark thus far." — Peter Goldstein, CTO and co-founder, Valimail