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Disaster recovery, convergence and security top 2008 networking to-do lists, survey finds

Michael Morisy
Disaster recovery, voice deployment and security will be three of 2008's big priorities as IT managers make their New Year's resolutions.

Those areas came to light in the results of a SearchNetworking.com survey that polled more than 1,200 readers, including network operations staff, IT managers, network engineers, consultants and executives.

Ten percent of readers said disaster recovery and backup requirements were driving network investments the most, with another 9% saying data center construction and upgrades were major contributing factors.

Joel Pogar, technology consultancy Forsythe's director of network solutions, said this focus was consistent with the attitudes of CIOs he had talked to.

"The average age of a data center is 18 to 20 years old," he said. As a result, power, cooling and other mechanisms are sorely out of date. As more and more data is being produced, and more laws mandate its retention, upgrading these antiquated facilities begins to make more sense, despite the large capital expenditures involved.

Voice deployment, in its varied forms, will also keep network managers busy. The survey found that voice-data convergence will drive 18% of respondents' routing and switching purchases in 2008, and it had the most impact on the network management needs of 14% last year.

"2008 is going to be the right time for voice movement," Pogar said. After a decade of discussions and promises around convergence, virtual meetings and cost savings, online

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collaboration is finally starting to live up to the hype, he said. That technology includes high-end capabilities like Cisco's TelePresence.

"We at Forsythe didn't believe it was going to have a significant place in the market, but a lot of people have really expressed interest in it," he said.

Security is also a perennial battle, and there the primary concerns continue to move away from fears of external threats (14% of respondents) to protecting critical data (28%) and integrating security into the network infrastructure (14%).

"The 'hacker' is not as big an issue as it was yesterday or a year before," Pogar said. "Around the security space, a lot of [CIOs] were talking about data leak protection."

These worries focus on internal leaks from disgruntled or otherwise dishonest employees and the much trickier task of giving users necessary proprietary information while not giving up control of it.

Also of rising concern is compliance (12% of respondents). Pogar said this was another thorny area, as discovery requests that come in from litigation can ask for a wide array of information from a variety of sources. As such, some industries might need to consider consolidating relevant information for set periods of time, making it accessible – yet protected – if needed.

There was one area of reader response that Pogar questioned: bandwidth usage. About 75% of readers said they would see an increase in usage over the next year, an unsurprising trend given the increase in the use of multimedia and converged communications.

Pogar said he did not believe increased enterprise use was a trend that would continue everywhere.

"There's only so much pipe you can have going into a customer," he said. "You're not going to see more bandwidth; you're going to see more bandwidth optimization."

WAN-optimization technologies will become very popular in 2008, Pogar predicted. "This is something that I've been preaching. Look at the network infrastructure and see where you can save money."

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