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Network technology trends for 2012: Network management

Looking at network management technology trends for 2012, EMA's Jim Frey predicts cross-domain management, SaaS-based management and cloud SLAs.

What will happen with network technology trends for 2012? sat down with five leading industry analysts to learn what they are predicting for the new year. In this installment about trends in network management, we speak with Jim Frey, research director for Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

Cross-domain management operations: The management technology trend for 2012

Enterprises will demand network management tools in 2012 that can play a direct role in cross-domain, application-aware operations support, according to Frey.

"Research completed in late 2011 confirms one of the key trends that EMA has been tracking for some time -- cross-domain operations teams will continue to grow as an approach to dealing with complex application and service quality issues," Frey said.

Network operations teams are leading the cross-domain charge, according to the research Frey has conducted. Two factors are prompting this technology trend for 2012: increasing complexity in applications and infrastructure due to advances in virtualization, and the steady shift toward internal private cloud models, he said.

"I think the key thing here is, this is the expectation more than the norm, that there be some means for understanding exactly which applications are healthy and which aren't," he said.

SaaS-based network management a key technology trend for 2012

SaaS-based network management tools will go mainstream in 2012, Frey said, especially among small and midmarket enterprises. An EMA survey of 160 network management pros found that 50% are using SaaS-based tools in production for some or all of their network management needs, Frey said. Another 40% said they were evaluating SaaS network management tools.

"The big thing is the lower administrative overhead and better support," Frey said. "When these tools are remotely hosted, you no longer have to apply patches and upgrades yourself. The support from the vendor is more timely and effective."

Of course, SaaS tools will have limitations, especially those that require pulling a lot of data across a remote link to the hosted management tool.

Cloud technology trend for 2012: Cloud SLAs

Finally, enterprises will seek more accountability for public cloud performance next year, Frey said.

"Public cloud providers are offering some availability SLAs [service level agreements] but no performance-based SLAs. There's nothing out there for responsiveness and round-trip times," Frey said. "No one can offer that full opportunity except for service providers working with content delivery networks like Akamai. That combination should be powerful in providing assurance."

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