Your network is so screwed

Summary:Let's have a moment of silence for all those network admins and architects. You have a decade of hell ahead courtesy of telepresence, a lack of staff and models that are simply in flux.

Let's have a moment of silence for all those network admins and architects. You have a decade of hell ahead courtesy of telepresence, a lack of staff and models that are simply in flux.

You don't notice your corporate network---or any other network---until the thing dies. But your network is about to get crushed by video, collaboration and social networks. Toss in mobile and corporate networks are toast. In fact, the only folks that are smiling are Cisco, Juniper and other gear providers.

At a Gartner presentation outlining the next decade for the network and mobility the message is that corporate networks just can't hang. The setup went something like this from analysts David Willis and Eric Paulak:

  • Business communications systems are being reworked.
  • You'll have to rebuild everything.
  • Users are demanding more.
  • Vendors are scrapping it out as "supervendors" like HP aim for Cisco's turf.
  • Video is going to gobble up your bandwidth.
  • Networks have to solve for geography, security, risk, real-time apps and multiple devices and app platforms.

"The bandwidth demand in the enterprise is insatiable and the usage is changing," said Willis. He added that every time the economy leaves a recession there's a network boom. The problem: There's a network boom with no budget and a talent crunch.

The analysts said in a research note:

Network organizations are often faced with contradictory choices. Company leaders assume their infrastructure to be secure and reliable. Yet, many business unit leaders and powerful end users also expect a high degree of freedom in the devices, services, and even applications they use. When something fails, they expect help, whether it is "supported" or not.

In a graphic, this mess looks like this:

We knew a lot of those risks, but the one that really stuck out is that there's a shortage for networking types.

Gartner noted:

While the outlook appears to be improving, companies are hesitant to open up head count. This is forcing managers to consider alternatives, including cutting back on services; adopting remote support services; simplifying the network; and outsourcing or looking to contract staff. Compensation may also be frozen, so good managers develop people in other ways: e.g., by seeking interesting projects; flex-time; developing skills, or paying educational/certification expenses.

Meanwhile, there just aren't enough folks that know the network. There's a talent crunch in Ethernet hubs, network switches, routers, data center management and host systems.

On the bright side, there's a fertile job market ahead for network types. With the right networking certification, you can "walk out of high school and land a six-figure job," said Willis.

More from Gartner’s Symposium:

Topics: Networking


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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