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Expert Carrie Higbie: LAN speeds catch up with WAN speeds

Expert Carrie Higbie has a lot to say about what's in store for 2005 in security, identity theft, 40G, outsourcing and more.

It has already been predicted that system security will account for 15% of all IT expenditures. I don't agree and think this is a rather low estimate, especially when you consider compliance duties. IT higher-ups will work to find the best tools to make their lives easier, starting at the physical layer and working their way up. When you look at companies like Wells Fargo (who had computers stolen with tons of personal information on student loans and then had to send out "free" identify theft packets), it is increasingly evident that application security is not enough. We need to get back to basics. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle that has been overshadowed by new bells and whistles is going to return to the limelight as the most basic principle for securing information.

Identity theft (while it makes for great commercials) is no laughing matter. It can take as much as five or six years to correct your credit rating and restore your ability to get credit after you've been swindled. Enough is enough! A better mouse trap is certainly in order. We are in a situation where protection is your best offense, but how many "regular" folks understand the implications? What this really means is that anyone who works in the communications and networking industries is going to be overwhelmed with calls from friends, family, friends of family, and casual acquaintances on how to protect their systems. I don't know about you guys, but I would rather be fishing!

The new T-Kip standard for wireless and the impending TIA WLAN standard are going to set new standards for wireless communications. As companies become more comfortable with this communication method, saturation is going to come into focus. This will be particularly true for the higher density cities. We will reach some sort of equation for how much you can really cram into the airwaves.

The 10GBASE-T standard is already in its first draft. In several surveys of networking professionals, the majority predicted the need for 10G on some portion of their network within the next five years. Understanding that there is a lifecycle between conception and reality, 40G will emerge next year, if in no other markets than storage and data centers. As physical media is ready for copper and fiber, watch for a show of interest from the IEEE within the next year for a storage solution capable of at least 40G. LAN speeds are going to catch up with WAN speeds (I never thought I would say that 6 years ago!).

Infrastructure is coming into focus for the first time in a while. It is estimated that 50% of all Category 5e installed and in use today will not pass Category 5e testing. This is due to a variety of reasons, from substandard products to great products with substandard installs. With VoIP and other "real-time" communications, this is going to continue to escalate. Companies are tired of paying consulting fees to electronics companies for work-arounds and trials only to find out at the end of several hundred dollars worth of tries that their physical layer isn't up to par. You can no longer rely on the label on the cable. Testing and infrastructure audits became paramount considerations for VoIP implementations and are becoming more of a concern for higher speed applications like Gigabit Ethernet. The days of running on barbed wire are over!

I think there will be more outsourcing next year. There is no way for companies to cost effectively hire people and deal with turnover, especially on a project basis. I also see the days of the "never ending project" and project creep becoming extinct. Consulting firms will have their feet held to the fire for results.

I also think that claims about scaleability are going to be challenged and published. If you say your system will scale to 50k users, you better be able to prove it. The guinea pig concept in IT is over! IT managers are tired of having their feet held to the fire (or in the worst case, having to put their resume on the street) because they believed and bought theories and sales promises. If you can't back up your claims, you had better shut up. I saw five vendors this year claim to be the first with a technology. Give me a break! And just for the record, I may be blonde, but I am smart enough to check dates!

I think that spending will increase this year as companies are seeing technical abilities as differentiators. If you aren't technical, don't sell me a technical solution! But by the same token, don't just assume that one technology fits all. Everyone has a twist on technology. Maybe we need more seminars this year on how to evaluate marketing info; wouldn't that save some headaches? Here at TechTarget, we understand that your time is precious. Soon we'll be offering you our new audio series offering 'Ten tips in 10 minutes.' This series is geared to get to the point quickly. You'll learn practical ways to cut through the hype and help understand the compelling issues in just 10 short minutes. In the time it takes to sit through a minor traffic snafu, you can learn enough to save a day of meetings discussing your IT problems.

I don't mean to sound bitter, but from what I am hearing, CIO's and technology leaders are done spending money on technology just because it's available. They are tired of buying a bill of goods and are really tired of buying stuff from companies because they are the best advertisers or own market share. If nothing else, we have learned through the lean times that our consumers are much better informed now than at any other point in history. Your best end-users are your best educated ones. Not just because they read a magazine, but because the really understand the issues and are not afraid to ask for justification and understanding. These are the successful IT leaders. To those of you that get different opinions and bother to test technologies -- you win my applause! In the end, it makes us all better!

Carrie Higbie, Global Network Applications Market Manager, The Siemon Company
Carrie has been involved in the computing and networking industries for nearly 20 years. She has been involved in sales, executive management and consulting on a wide variety of platforms and topologies and has held director and VP positions with fortune 500 companies and consulting firms. Carrie has taught classes for Novell, Microsoft and Cisco certifications, as well as CAD/CAE, networking and programming on a collegiate level. She has worked with manufacturing firms, medical institutions, casinos, healthcare providers, cable and wireless providers and a wide variety of other industries in both networking design/implementation, project management and software development for privately held consulting firms and most recently Network and Software Solutions.

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