Fundamental networking industry trends to expect in 2014

Analysts discuss data center, cloud encryption and Wi-Fi trends that can be expected in 2014.

What does 2014 have in store for the networking industry? We asked three top industry analysts to predict the key networking industry trends for this year. Click on the links below to find out what we might see happen in the WLAN market and the data center, cloud encryption and virtualization security arenas.

Jim Berenbaum, Gartner Research Inc., on the WLAN market

Jim Berenbaum emphasized the importance of higher-throughput Wi-Fi capabilities for businesses in 2014. With HotSpot2.0, for example, users will be able to skip the authentication process when going from Wi-Fi to a cellular network. Convenience is key. It will be increasingly important for IT departments to ensure Wi-Fi capabilities are robust enough to handle the amount of wireless traffic that will be popping up from increasingly sophisticated cellphones, tablets and personal laptops. The growth of Wi-Fi notwithstanding, wireless connectivity won't replace wired infrastructures, Berenbaum said, citing investments already in place.

Eric Hanselman, 451 Research, on data center trends

The next 12 months will bring a transition period where data centers will focus on more efficient fabric connections as they appear to be more willing to abandon legacy architectures. At the same time, organizations seem to be ready to spend more on network components in light of per-port cost decreases. In the network functions virtualization (NFV) space, companies will start investing in the NFV concept to connect virtualization pieces with networking infrastructure; a unified strategy, however, is lacking. The same holds true for software-defined networking, although Hanselman said he believes some enterprises will begin to dip their toe in the waters. Finally, Hanselman predicted scattered adoption of white-box networking, saying the concept will only appeal to a small group of customers.

John Kindervag, Forrester Research Inc., on cloud encryption and network virtualization security.

Legacy firewalls and intrusion prevention will become ancient history in 2014, according to John Kindervag of Forrester Research. Cloud encryption will be the go-to method for protecting data in both public and private clouds. Concerns about increased National Security Alliance surveillance, as well as continuous attacks from hackers, have made encrypting data less of a precaution and more of a necessity for companies that need to protect their information. The need to cloak data with encryption will likely attract big vendors, which will likely snap up the smaller cloud data encryption suppliers that are now peppering the market.

This was first published in January 2014

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