There aren’t many surprises in the latest market survey from networking vendor Emulex, but it certainly confirms that enterprise networks are facing massive changes to adapt to and support the anywhere, anytime, any-device reality of today’s hyper-connected world. The growing requirement for faster data-center networks isn’t a surprise, says Shaun Walsh, senior vice president of marketing and corporate development, but the rate at which bandwidth demand is increasing is.
The biggest difference is that networks primarly ran up to 1Gb Ethernet for the better part of a decade, but over the next few years networks will be running at speeds of 10, 40 and 100Gb, concurrently, he says. “Today, 40% have already deployed 10Gb Ethernet, and in another four years, the majority of those networks will be operating at 100GbE. It’s truly unprecedented.”
The survey of more than 1,500 IT executives in North America and Europe, conducted in August, found that 20% will require 10,000x faster networks by 2016. More than a quarter (27%) say the need for network I/O increases by 100% or more each year. Just over a third (37%) say they currently manage more than 1 petabyte of data or more; and 11% say they manage 100 petabytes or more. And close to a fifth (19%) say their networks will run at 1 Tbps or faster by 2016.
These findings are consistent with a number of recent reports. A study from Dimension Data, the 2012 Network Barometer Report, concluded that 45% of networks will be totally obsolete within five years, and of the devices now in obsolescence, the percentage at end-of-sale increased dramatically from 4.2 % last year to 70% this year. Gartner stated that networks remain a top priority for organizations, with telecom equipment and services expected to account for the largest chunk of a global IT spend that will surpass $3.6 trillion in 2012. Telecom equipment spending will reach $377 billion this year, up 17.5%, and growing another 8.3% in 2013, while telecom services will come in at $1.686 trillion (up 1.4%) and $1.725 trillion (up 2.3%), respectively in 2012 and 2013.
Walsh calls today’s network environment the result of a “perfect storm”, caused by four trends – big data, cloud, virtualization and network convergence – hitting at the same time, and putting tremendous pressure on data centers to increase network bandwidth and I/O. “Network dynamics are changing.” Cloud isn’t so much a trend as a tool in the toolbox. “We need to pick the right tools for the right job.”
Big data, AKA the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of ridiculously huge data sets, is an interesting example. Currently restricted due to to costs, complexity and skills shortages, it is expected to account for more than half of the world’s data in the next five years, according to a study from Internet Research Group and Infineta Systems. The study suggests this growth has the potential to clog networks, with the bandwidth demand compromising the latency, speed and reliability of the enterprise WAN.
The bottom line, says Walsh, is that we’re in for unprecedented change in today’s networks. “ I think this is going to be one of the most exciting periods in networking. I think we will see as much technology innovation over the next few years as swe aw in the dot.com era.”
He likens the new environment to the Android/iPhone smartphone paradigm/ “I can move between Android/iPhone without thinking about it. I think we will see that happen with networking.”