Can your Network Handle the Pressure?

We are living in a time of unprecedented change. And it’s not a slow, creeping change, it’s a lightning fast, grab hold of your hat, change. As the consumerisation of IT, the rise of mobile, the automation of processes through machine-to-machine communication and the shift to the cloud become mainstream, whole industries are being transformed. In the middle of this technological revolution sits the network, the main superhighway on which millions of terabytes of data from billions of devices flow. Even if your network copes with your enterprise needs now, can it handle the pressures that lie ahead?

During the last few years we’ve witnessed a sharp acceleration of trends that began many years ago. Handheld devices have become high-powered, multi-functional units; people expect instant connections to the internet no matter where they are; machines, appliances and accessories have started communicating with each other; the workplace has become a more fluid concept; collaborative working now means working virtually with dispersed teams; and in-house servers are being replaced by the cloud and massive data centres.

Pace of change is accelerating. Can you keep up?

Sticking your head in the sand and thinking this revolution will pass you by simply won’t work. Change is here and the pace isn’t slowing down, in fact, it’s only getting faster.

In 2010 12.5 billion devices were connected to the internet; Cisco says this figure will have doubled to 25 billion by the end of 2015, and in just five years will double again to 50 billion. The nature of these devices will change too. Employees in today’s workplace use an average of three different devices during the day, according to Gartner. As technologies like wearable devices (the Apple iWatch for example) and the Internet of Things (IoT) become mainstream, Gartner expects this figure to jump to five or six devices. And BYOD is likely to become more ingrained; Gartner says that, by 2017, 50% of organisations will require their employees to supply their own device.

With more devices and apps, comes increased usage and data. IDC predict that the digital universe will grow by a factor of 10 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes in 2013 to 44 trillion in 2020 – more than doubling every 2 years. Data from embedded systems, a major component of the IoT, will grow from 2% of the digital universe in 2013 to 10% in 2020. As more and more useful data becomes available, the greater the opportunity for enterprises to use it – to learn about customers, improve operations, identify new market gaps – and the more they will need to take advantage of analytics technologies and new data sources.

In addition to multiple, diverse devices entering the workplace and generating massive amounts of data, enterprises are increasingly moving their business, including mission critical apps, into the cloud, fuelling demands for higher bandwidth and mobility. According to IDC, by 2020, more than 40% of the data will be either stored or processed in some way by the cloud, up from 20% in 2013.

With more and more applications running in the cloud and employees demanding easier access, what we’re seeing now is the evolution of the wireless workplace. Latest IDC research shows the enterprise WLAN market is currently growing at a rate of 11.5% each year in EMEA. According to Neil Rickard, Research VP at Gartner, there is a shift from wireless-by-exception to wireless-by-default in many enterprises. Where previously only 10% of devices would be connected to the enterprise LAN via Wi-Fi, he predicts that modern enterprises will be connecting 90% of devices via wireless, with only 10% relying on wired connectivity.

Your network is no longer just a commodity, it’s the heartbeat of your business

So reliant have we become on our network connection that it has shifted from being a good-to-have to must-have, as vital as heat, electricity and water. Just like we flick a light switch and expect light, workers of today expect to be able to connect to their enterprise network from anywhere and any device without having to think about it. An average enterprise network is expected to run email, internet access, cloud applications, customer communications, printing needs and meetings and a host of other mission critical applications that your business just cannot function properly without.

But clogged with devices, overloaded with applications and data, managed by staff with many other commitments, this average enterprise network may be experiencing more than a few cracks. Keeping this network in a condition where it can support the new way of working will become a full-time job for your IT team, if it’s not already. As IDC point out, the digital universe is doubling every two years in size but the number of IT professionals on the planet may never double again – or at least not for 20 years.

A fully-managed network for the future

We’ve seen some enterprises realise the value in outsourcing their network; handing the management of this utility to experts who can make sure it runs at peak performance. By taking this step, they’ve been able to return to the high-value tasks of using technological developments to achieve their business’ strategic goals.

With eir Peerless Networks, we offer you something that your future business deserves: the most attentive, proactively managed network you’ll find anywhere. We design your network to make it work harder for you. We manage your network to ensure it’s always running at its peak – optimum performance, minimal downtime. We continuously monitor your network to stay one step ahead and recommend how to make it work smarter.

Rather than worrying about the challenges that this future digital universe will present, be ready for the opportunities it will bring. These changes can be exciting, adding real value to your business, as long as you are prepared for them. If you believe your IT team have got better things to do than manage your network, let someone else help.

Shane Haslem is Head of Network Enabled Design, eir Business NI. To find out how Peerless Networks can help your business, contact Shane at uk.linkedin.com/in/shanehaslem or call the eir Business NI team on 0800 039 2000