The Bring Your Own Device craze is already taking off in a big way (more on that in a moment). Video content shows no signs of slowing down. Communication is becoming more mobile by the minute, and security requirements ever more complex and demanding.
In short, all the signs are that the stresses and strains placed on your network are likely to become increasingly intense in the coming months.
Working out what your network needs to cope with in 2012 can be as simple as popping your head above the desk and looking at what your colleagues in the other parts of the business are asking for. While the requests won’t necessarily change dramatically year on year - better mobility, good security that doesn’t stop them from doing their job, etc. etc. - the complexity involved in making them a reality almost definitely will.
While that might be a good way of getting some quick insight of course, it’s the hardly the most scientific approach. But when it comes to network readiness, there are some big numbers in terms of devices and tech that do a lot of the talking as well.
According to research by Cisco, for instance, by 2014 video traffic is expected to increase six-fold from today. That soaring scale will be driven - partially at least - by the fact that 60 percent of companies are planning on rolling out video conferencing in the next 12 months, with plans to let around three quarters of users access this tech from laptop devices. And by 2015, the firm estimates that a staggering seven billion mobile devices will be roaming around the world’s businesses, with all of the mobile data and security demands that come hand in hand.
For the unprepared, those numbers could spell trouble. Even if your business isn’t planning on rolling out the latest, most-bandwidth intensive technology, others that you work with in some capacity may well be - creating demand and expectation from your customers and colleagues alike that your network will be able to keep up with the enterprise Joneses.
And that, of course, is before the “London 2012 Effect” comes into play. While there will likely be a great economic opportunity for a whole host of businesses to go after as the Olympic Games make their way to London, being able to work flexibly around any potential disruption during the event will be absolutely key.
With many people expected to work remotely or from home in order to avoid potential traffic and travel disruption, as well as plenty of interest in the Games and the flexible hours requests that could follow, making the most out of the London 2012 potential means getting ready now for the accompanying network demands.
Back to Cisco. According to the networking giant, anyone looking to get their network in shape now for the challenges ahead needs to focus on three key areas: video, mobile devices and secure mobility.
Video, as we know, can be a game changer. As noted above, video traffic is on the rise and is an increasingly crucial collaboration tool. From dedicated video conferencing or telepresence kit to free web-cam based video sharing, there are a range of ways to stay in touch. And then there’s mobile video, as tablets and more wonderful devices make their way into the enterprise.
2. Mobile devices:
More devices equals greater mobility, better collaboration and an all-round more productive working environment. But as more and more of us bring our own technology into the workplace, they can also create a major headache when it comes troubleshooting and security management. BYOD raises the big question of whether your network can cope with the increased demand - in fact, a recent survey showed that 64 percent of IT pros in the UK say it’s becoming more difficult to meet the BYOD demands of their employees.
3. Secure mobility:
Of course, the mobile challenge isn’t just about network demand - it’s also about security. With more and more consumer devices in the workplace, part of the challenge is that making sure that no matter where or how people are accessing your business information, the network stays secure. From wireless access to single sign-ons for Virtual Private Networks, keeping the network safe without limiting availability will become an ever-more pressing challenge.
Softcat is providing a host of guidance and advice for anyone looking to make sure they’re well equipped for the challenges ahead, including a network readiness assessment - a step-by-step guide that takes readers through a range of scenarios. You can find that and much more at http://www.cisco.co.uk/isyournetworkready