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Network management predictions for 2010: Automation, video, mobility

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Network management predictions: Cisco-EMC-VMware, oh my! And more options for virtualization, automation, mobility, and video management

Jim Frey

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We asked Jim Frey, research director at Enterprise Management Associates, to dish some predictions in the network management market. Automation is a buzzword now. In 2010, network automation will be a reality -- maybe. And virtualization will not be quite the headache in 2010 that it is for network managers today.

Cisco-EMC-VMware: Cisco's alliance with EMC and VMware to form the Virtual Computing Coalition, announced in November, signified "the next step of how Cisco is going to try to move into the computing marketplace more aggressively," Frey said. The coalition's products marked "the first time a complete turnkey modular solution has come from someone other than the major systems vendors," said Frey, who predicted that it would propel a simpler network management environment.

Virtualization management gets easier: Application-based vendors will continue to add support for and recognize more virtualized infrastructure, Frey said, lowering capital expenses and deployment times for enterprises. "Everything's going virtual," he said. "I know this is not new, but especially in the second half of next year … all the management tool [vendors will be] either adding support for virtual components … or recognizing virtual components."

Read more 2010 predictions from networking analysts

Network infrastructure: 40 Gigabit Ethernet data center switches and Layer 2 returns

Wireless LANs: Cheaper access points, more reliable and robust networks

Data center networks: Two-tier networks arrive, mergers drive price reductions

Network security: All-in-one devices to combine unified threat management and next-generation firewalls

Automation: Expect vendors to add more automation into network management tools, Frey said. "Virtualization has one other side impact … the need for more automation -- especially around configuration management, around auditing and around monitoring configuration," he said. "[Enterprises are] trying to keep up with monitoring the health of these investments."

Mobility: Wireless LAN is here to stay, and not all enterprises are prepared. "There's no slowing the pace of growth in the use of mobile endpoints, and a number of times they're showing up as the preferred end client," Frey said. "The challenge around this is the more and more people want to use those as their primary computing device, you've got a whole new set of challenges for measuring and [securing] the user experience."

Video on the network: Cisco's acquisition of Tandberg will translate into "a lot more aggressive deployment of video conferencing," Frey said. "Cisco does this for a reason -- it requires a lot bigger network. You need more bandwidth." Many enterprises have yet to embrace video conferencing and won't have their networks prepared for the rush, he added. "It will be sort of like voice over IP in its first years of existence," Frey said. "Once they started to roll [VoIP] out over their entire organizations, they realized how many skeletons they had in the proverbial wiring closet." If enterprises aren't prepared, he said, they can expect 10 times the wiring challenges they faced with VoIP.

Next: Market analyst predicts network security tools in 2010 will combine unified threat management with next-generation firewalls.


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