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The Future of Business Rides on the Network

December 9, 2012 by Steve Wojtowecz

Business Network communicationsEnterprise networks of the past were static, linking servers in the data center or department to personal desktop computers and storage in a configuration that would stay intact for months or maybe even years. As a result, managing those networks was pretty straightforward.

In today’s interconnected world, networks are more critical than ever for business operations. Current enterprise networks rely heavily on the Internet as the pathway between themselves and their customers/business partners.  Organizations are rapidly adopting a wide range of technologies that inherently rely on the network.   These technologies include virtualized infrastructure that is constantly changing — including private and public clouds and a myriad of new personal mobile devices such as the iPad and smartphones — many of which are outside the control of IT managers.

New applications such as video and web conferencing and new technologies such as VOIP and WiFi are placing demands for increased bandwidth on networks that are already overburdened, while the stress and complexity on the network is not expected to slow down.  In fact, forecasts show that by 2016, the number of devices connected to IP networks will be nearly three times the global population (Cisco, “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016,” May 30, 2012). Worldwide, mobile data traffic is expected to increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016 (Cisco, “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016,” May 30, 2012.). It’s getting hard to figure out where the networks begin and end in today’s dynamic world.

Consider these scenarios:

An employee working from home needs to get a critical report sent to his management team to help close a big customer deal. The network goes down, preventing him from sending the file; the deal is lost.

Taking care of an elderly parent on a fixed income, a daughter tries to order medications for her mother before the time runs out on her medical flex account.   The network is down and she is unable submit the order in time, so the funds are lost.

Working against a tight deadline, a critical decision needs to be made by executives on a new initiative.   A video conference is needed to bridge all the company’s leaders together.  Due to issues with the video conference, they lose out on a great opportunity to launch their company into a new business.

It’s the network that allows people, devices, applications, and systems to connect to anyone, anything, at anytime, from anywhere around the world.   Treating network reliability as a given is something we can no longer afford and therefore, we must fundamentally reinvent the way we think about and manage networks or we will be unprepared for the challenges ahead.  The future of business will ride on the network, and that future is today.

We in IBM are positioning our development and research efforts to help with more effective tools and management practices to help prevent network outages before they occur.

What are your thoughts when it comes to your Network?

If you want to learn more about what IBM is doing to help, listen to the joint InformationWeek/IBM Webcast on demand replay:  ‘Preventing Costly Network Outages in Today’s Mobile and Cloud World’.

Follow Steve @steve_woj

  • David Metcalfe

    Great post Steve, the network is taken for granted always available and as you rightly point out, as soon as its unavailable it becomes a major event! So the the management and monitoring of the network and IT infrastructure is even more important!

  • http://www.twitter.com/pkraeger Paul Kraeger

    Loved your post Steve, totally agree that the network is always taken for granted. Ironically, given that networks are now much more dynamic due to mobile devices, Cloud & Virtualization and Big Data, it’s not possible to any longer forget about the network…… Your blog post is so spot on!

  • http://www.ibm.com Matt Duggan

    Interesting post Steve – really hits on some important points. The truth is that *everything* ultimately depends on the network = no network, no service. Increasingly dynamic environments also really puts pressure on traditionally non-network disciplines (and teams) to have rapid and appropriate visibility of the network that supports their services.

  • Dietger Bahn

    Finally! Considering the importance of the network. Or do you think you are able to drive your car with flat tires?! Not mentioned the importance of securing the network too. Great post and highly appreciated Steve! And we might need such kind of posts in native languages in addition. We need more of them.