2013 promises to be a year of real disruption for IT and business network leaders. Technology trends that have been gathering momentum over the past several years are beginning to crest before crashing ashore. These trends include Big Data Analytics, Mobile Computing, Cloud Services and Social Media. These trends are putting incredible pressure on wide area networks (WANs) of all sizes. Why is this becoming an issue for IT and network managers? Because the inability to manage the network to meet the growing demands will result in immediate bottom and top line impacts. In fact, 90% of the growth in IT spending will be driven by these four areas of focus over the next 6-7 years. See the numbers for yourself in our infographic, Forces Disrupting the Network.
The Wall Street Journal had an article on Friday March 8th with the headline “How Big Data is Changing the Whole Equation for Business“ where the authors highlighted examples of how companies large and small are using Big Data analytics to change how they’re doing business. The fact is, companies of all sizes have access to more and more information and are just now beginning to put that data to work in the form of better hiring practices, smarter marketing decisions, the building of better products as well as optimizing operations. More than 50% of business professionals surveyed on the topic said they are using Big Data more now than 12 months ago. Gartner forecasts that almost $60 billion in IT spending will be driven by Big Data by 2016. Why the big investment? In 2013 the digital universe will double to over 4 zettabytes of data. All of this data needs to be captured, transmitted and ultimately acted upon. All of which impacts IT budgets as well as the networks this data must traverse.
Mobile, BYOD and Security
Mobile computing offers its own set of challenges for IT and network managers, namely in the sheer number of devices that are connecting to wireless networks, and ultimately accessing the corporate WAN. Forecasters think that within the next two years the number of connected devices will increase by an astounding 3100%. This staggering increase is driven by the continuing proliferation of smartphones, tablets, phablets, and Internet-connected TVs, refrigerators and other machines. Machine-to-machine (M2M) connections and bring your own devices (BYOD) are two of the emerging trends in mobile computing that IT leaders must contend with along with a flood of new, and ever more powerful smartphones operating across a variety of platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.). It’s the Internet of Things becoming a reality. A consequence of this is that IT and network managers need to be more vigilant in securing the network with so many different devices connecting to it.
The Swelling Cloud
Cloud computing is another of the areas of focus for IT leaders in 2013. Although not a new concept, cloud computing is beginning to gain more than a foothold in businesses across all industry segments. Cloud computing offers a portable business environment, one that leads to increased productivity, faster decision making, and lower costs. Various studies point to enormous growth in this area, with upwards of 50% of all IT workloads will be processed in the “cloud“ by 2014. Another recent survey of senior decision makers in IT found that 65% of respondents over the past 12 months had invested in Virtualization and consolidation to eliminate hardware, software, and operation waste at branch offices and in data centers.
The Bandwidth Hog
Last but not least is the continued growth of social media tools and platforms. The reason social media is added to list is because of the continuing integration and use of video content across social media applications. Video content in general has a huge impact on networks because it’s a bandwidth hog. When tied more tightly to social media platforms and social networking tools, video content and distribution becomes a huge issue for IT and network managers, if only because of the bandwidth required to support a quality end-user experience.
Introducing the Intelligent WAN
How will business networks and the people who manage them respond? Whether it’s the mounting volume and changing traffic flows across the WAN, maintaining security policies, managing the drain on Internet bandwidth, dealing with escalating infrastructure costs and requirements, maintaining response times for key applications, to dealing with fluctuating user locations, the key is a better performing WAN. A WAN with more flexibility, allowing more visibility into the network, coupled with enhanced network based security. It boils down to managing a more “intelligent“ network. So, how well are you going to deal with these four areas of focus in 2013?
Learn more about XO’s Intelligent WAN.