We all want more... of everything. Customers always want more and rightly so – it’s what keeps vendors on their toes and drives them to innovate and deliver excellent service. However, sometimes these demands place extreme pressure on resources, sometimes even to deliver more than is physically possible. I am a firm believer in the old adage that, “anything is possible”, but it seems that this mantra is not applicable to the modern network infrastructure in many organisations.
For example, many modern networks are starting to buckle under the immense volume of traffic they have to handle. According to a recent study we conducted in the UK, demand for bandwidth on computer networks is rapidly outstripping capacity in more than one third of businesses, leading to major concerns over the quality of application delivery, security and business continuity. This is no great surprise. Just look at your company. How many employees are streaming video (work-related or otherwise) over your network? How many more people and devices are attached to your network than there were even three years ago? Have files gotten bigger? Have applications gotten fatter? How many BlackBerries or iPhones do you have deployed, all generating data traffic and consuming bandwidth at exponential rates? IDC states that there will be over 15 billion devices in use across the globe by 2015, and if left unchecked corporate networks will buckle under the strain.
A recent poll that brocade conducted of over 100 senior IT decision makers found that 39 percent felt that they would need to increase network capacity by up to 50 percent over the next year just to keep pace with user demand. The underlying capacity concern is directly related to concerns for network and application performance, with 39 percent of those questioned stating that it (performance) was of paramount importance to the success of the business. Enforcing this, two thirds of respondents stated that their existing network could only be described at best as ‘relatively quick’, and a further 18 percent describing it as ‘slow’, showing that work still needs to be done, even just to maintain the status quo. This is disturbing data, as network resilience, performance and reliability is of paramount importance to the modern economy, and if there are signs of weakness then it sends alarm bells ringing.
CIOs expect tomorrow's corporate networks to fulfil a wide range of sometimes conflicting demands. They want unprecedented scalability, but reduced management complexity. They want seamless mobility, but tight orchestration, and they want emerging networking technologies to complement the investments they are making today, instead of forcing them to refresh the entire environment in a wholesale 'rip-and-replace' exercise.
This research has highlighted what many in the industry had suspected; network performance, scalability, availability and security is uppermost in the minds of network managers, struggling to meet end user expectations of an ‘always-on, always-available’ network. This is clearly putting the network under immense pressure, and companies need to develop a long-term strategy to cope with demand and not just instigate a quick fix to cover their immediate needs.