The network may be one of the less glamorous elements of the enterprise technology infrastructure, but it's an essential one — and it's getting an overhaul.
New initiatives such as cloud computing and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are imposing new burdens on the corporate network, which means CIOs are looking at upgrades, new technologies and new techniques to ensure that it can deliver the required services.
Cloud computing, for example, means that networks have to be reliable for staff to be able to access core business applications, while BYOD support allows staff to use their own devices on the corporate network, which may create additional demand — for example by increasing the amount of video traffic.
Traditional network architectures are struggling to keep pace with these new applications, while concepts such as software-defined networking are coming to the fore.
Researched published by IT industry group CompTIA earlier this month found that networking infrastructure was one of CIOs' top priorities for this year. The same report rated 'networking/infrastructure' as the top IT skill as related to business.
And when asked whether investing in new networking infrastructure to support new applications and devices was a priority for CIOs, a number of members of the ZDNet/TechRepublic CIO Jury responded that it was.
"BYOD is taking its toll on security, management and even throughput on our network — but especially our patience."
— Scott C Smith, 32Ten Studios
Scott C Smith, director of technology at 32Ten Studios, said "BYOD is taking its toll on security, management and even throughput on our network — but especially our patience."
Meanwhile, Gavin Megnauth, director of operations at Morgan Hunt, said future-proofing the underlying infrastructure is vital to ensure the smooth running of business applications. "This really should be a given in the modern era. But I was recently surprised at a CIO event to hear of so many CIOs struggling with this."
Megnauth added: "We have our bandwidth segmented to allow BYOD devices, on which we are able to monitor personal use (people using company bandwidth to stream movies), and generally believe we have the bandwidth, quality of service and resilience to contend with the emerging technologies."
Kevin Leypoldt, IS director at Structural Integrity Associates explained: "We are in the process of increasing bandwidth and upgrading/replacing our packet-shaping devices with more robust units (capable of, shaping, prioritizing and scheduling available bandwidth) so that our applications can be constantly fine-tuned and controlled."
But not all tech chiefs are convinced: David Wilson, director of IT services at Vector CSP, said: "I think most of the strain comes from trying to have 'the next big thing' when all of the work being accomplished is effective and efficient within current boundaries."