Your network is so screwed

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.

TOPICS: Networking

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:

Topic: Networking

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Welcome to the 90s

    Cmon the demand for data has been with us for decades.

    Push noncritical stuff to edge servers, maintain security at the core. Beyond the MCSE generation, but for the rest of us we've not earnt this much since the dotcom boom and y2k.
    Richard Flude
  • just block it

    Unless users can show a business need to clog the network with video and other high demanding media, then we will just continue to block it. No plans of migrating off of gigabit ethernet anytime soon.....
    • RE: Your network is so screwed

      @patrickd26 it's not youtube, it's HD video conferencing that is needed. That is not just from the conference room, but from everyone's desk under multiple windows on the computers. Now that will take up bandwidth.
      • RE: Your network is so screwed

        @Maarek HD is "needed"? Dont think so. Plus if you simply use H264 and put out a 720p signal thats still only ~2 Mbs. Not alot really unless everyone is using it all the time. Hello QoS.
  • You guys act like...

    Enterprise network teams have been standing still since 1984 and just looked up and discovered the cloud! Please.

    Networks are already built in companies to handle the data needs of that company and are being upgraded all the time at most companies. Video is going to chew the bandwidth in the future? DUH.. It already has been for 10 years!
  • RE: Your network is so screwed

    Nope not @ all i work for a small company (38 employees) and will have little/ need for big expensive video systems. Maybe once a year we do use a webcam to train staff on something this happens very rarely.
  • RE: Your network is so screwed

    It's a shame I haven't spent my time deploying gigabit to every desktop, and 10GBE capable equipment all over campus. Had I known, I would have connected my remote sites with fiber, and deployed 300MB/s wireless everywhere.

    Oh wait, that's what I (and most other competent admins with sufficient funding) have been doing the past several years.

    Most LANs won't have a problem with enough bandwidth nd latency issues to handle the next generation of traffic. We're putting more across the wire in backups each night than what's going on during the day.

    Maybe a story on how companies won't be able to afford the cost charged by ISPs for massive external connections would make more sense?
  • Who are these people?

    You know, the ones who make these claims? My network is designed to do what's needed of it, with room to grow, and I'm sure most people that have redone their networks have done the same.

    Old structures or buildings are harder to wire and many go with a bit of "overkill", as you only want to wire something like that once, so even they're ready for the future in most cases.

    And if some smaller company wants to add video conferencing, they usually just fiber up one or two conference rooms, nothing overly dramatic like doing every connection in fiber or something, as that's not needed for the task at hand.
    John Zern
  • RE: Your network is so screwed

    We're about to test in-house message boards and digital signage with project schedules over the network with IP transmitters and receivers. The specs for the system require max 60Mbps for 1080p on MPEG-1. That would run fine on a 100 Base-T network and we're gigabit with fiber interconnects. We run large photoshop files while also streaming video and music, plus we have a social media department. If it has an impact, which I doubt, then I'll simply install a network for those displays by themselves. You don't need to rebuild your network, you need to out-think it.
    • social media deptartment?


      You work for the mayor of Farmville or what?
      • RE: Your network is so screwed

        @pgit Viral marketing and website impact analysis. Where do you work? Under a rock?
      • close


        I work next to a rock, between a hard place.

        I'm sorry but "social media" is a time wasting fad, there may be a temporary spike in bottom lines using it but it's going to prove to be a sugar high. No real production is resulting from it.

        It's proving a dangerous fad for most users, actually. At least the likes of "Total Quality Management" psychobabble are merely benign wastes of time.

        The people I know actually doing productive things around here in the Rockville-Hardplaceton-Tricolor area have no use for "social media." A bean counter for a largish manufacturer likened facebook to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
  • RE: Your network is so screwed

    Where is this happening?
  • RE: Your network is so screwed

    I am sure there will be increased demand for video conferencing to save travel costs. The bottom line is everyone will need more bandwith from videoconferencing to nightly backups etc.
    it really about managing expectations, new things come out all the time, and yes users will ask for it.
    That is part of the game. Obviously it depends on business needs that will determine what is needed and when it will be purchased to upgrade the infrastructure. When user demands are not met, and the network degrades the first to go will be those who are supposed to be in charge of the network for not doing their job explaining the risks associated of doing nothing. Perhaps its because many of same Managers have no idea how things work.
  • RE: Your network is so screwed

    When i worked for blizzard (ne vivendi) in 2006, they were still running 10BT to each workstation on the GM floor. Database lookups were prone to collisions, etc. Mind you, there was probably cat6a in the walls, but the backplanes were 10BT with 100BT backplanes to servers that had 100BT connections to the outside world.

    This isn't something that some IT departments will have issues with, obviously. Newer companies, companies that move buildings often (growing...), and companies with large budgets can lay expensive cable between floors and then upgrade the hardware on each floor as necessary. I've always felt that gigabit to the desktop is probably the most you need, as long as the backplane is at least 10 times faster (or more!) - just add an additional 10GB drop to a floor if they need more bandwidth.

    I've had to do stuff like route 5 users out of 45 to a different internet connection, because their needs far outweighed what the T1(best we could get) could provide. Nevermind the fact that the T1 was also halved because of the VOIP PBX system.

    Every office is different. Maybe someday you'll write a business case for wireless N access points, multiple nodes, and have it shot down because "it's literally 100 times faster than our internet connection!" management, OPs management, and even savant IT managers just don't get what users need bandwidth for.

    Backups, filesharing, internal test sites, database connections... the management doesn't do any of that, they're just making phone calls and putting out fires all day. Heaven forbid their video presentation that's streaming to the media room stutters because the entire marketing department is running a backup, though.
  • Use the right tools

    One way that IT staffs can do more with less and help keep corporate networks ahead of the ?application curve? is to use network management tools to find out exactly what is connected to their networks (and where), keep up to date on physical and virtual network changes and even automate some network management tasks. Contrary to what the article states, there will be enough people that ?know the network? and they will use these tools to closely monitor network devices and traffic flows, and help to proactively plan for new applications and upcoming bandwidth demands. These tools have been around for several years, are affordably priced and work right out of the box. Let?s not panic and instead use the tools that are available to us!
    - Marina Gil-Santamaria, Director of Product Marketing, Ipswitch Inc.?s Network Management Division