- According to the 3rd Annual Trends in Cloud Computingstudy, 50 percent of cloud users who found its cost savings to be lower than original estimates attributed the disparity to unplanned network upgrades.
- Forty-two percent of respondents in the 2nd Annual Unified Communications Market Trends study say they would like more clarity around the network capabilities needed for UC.
- Among IT staff in the Trends in Enterprise Mobility study, 48 percent felt that integrating mobile devices into the corporate network was a significant challenge. Anecdotal evidence shows that allocating the proper bandwidth to handle mobile devices is a major part of this activity.
- The 3rd Annual Small and Medium Business Technology Adoption Trends study showed that network efficiency and robustness was the top item that SMBs wanted to address as soon as possible.
Inside the data center, networking needs are changing due to high levels of virtualization. As the amount of virtualized workloads approaches 50 percent, a new architecture for server-to-server communications is needed since bottlenecks can occur at physical network interfaces. In addition, virtualization creates a dynamic environment, so it is difficult to plan a single physical structure that is optimal at all times. Data center fabric networks are being touted by firms such as Cisco, Juniper and Brocade as the solution for the future. Fabric networks are flatter and simpler than current networks designed for client/server communications. They borrow heavily from storage networks but rely on techniques such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) or the Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT)’s TRILL standard rather than the Fibre Channel connections used by storage networks, which are costly and require specialized knowledge.
A second field that has momentum and is likely more pertinent for most IT workers is software-defined networking (SDN). Most network routing today happens on proprietary hardware, where the pieces that handle the actual packets (the data plane) are tightly coupled to the pieces that define where packets will be sent (the control plane). The control plane typically maps out the network and builds a decision table for packet forwarding; equipment can be costly due to the proprietary algorithms used for this activity. In addition, this approach is not flexible enough for virtual/cloud-based architectures. Within an SDN paradigm, networks can be virtualized to get maximum use out of the physical infrastructure, and the control plane is decoupled from the data plane, allowing network administrators to build their own controls in software and communicate those plans to commodity switches and routers. The most common communication method is the OpenFlow standard. SDN has picked up steam recently with VMWare’s acquisition of Nicira and it will certainly be a field for network administrators to keep an eye on.
As technology shifts, the pinch points for speed and functionality shift as well. Whether it is clock speed, storage or network bandwidth, some aspect that was previously viewed as sufficient suddenly becomes the limiting factor. As companies focus on their networking efforts and explore new fields, CompTIA will keep an eye on the trends and help provide insight and education.