Canadian executives are among the most aggressive when it comes to planning for new investments in their company’s networks, particularly in the areas of utility computing, wireless access and Voice over IP technology , according to a recent survey.

The survey, released late May, questioned

254 senior executives from more than 20 industries worldwide and found that 61 per cent of respondents intended to increase network spending over the next two years, an increase of 21 per cent over the last year.

Among Canadian executives 71 per cent said they planned significant or very significant increases in the funds allocated.

The survey was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based in London, U.K., and AT&T.

According to Andrew Palmer, global director of executive services for EIU, only six per cent of global respondents felt their networks were well-equipped for all the business challenges that they may face.

“”Complex and inefficient network architectures slow down business and impede the realization of corporate strategies,”” said Palmer during a teleconference. “”Executives have their eye on technology that will help their networks to overcome that challenge.””

Ranking high among the challenges identified by senior executives are better network security, reliability and availability levels.

Other identified needs include speed in the delivery of data and information-sharing with outside partners and customers.

High on the list of new investments are VoIP, wireless access and utility computing with over 40 percent of respondents anticipating investments in these areas over the next two years.

“”These are areas of investment that are effectively the boardroom’s answer to the challenges that they have identified in the survey,”” said Palmer.

Utility computing was the focus of the AT&T presentation that accompanied the release of the EIU’s findings. The utility model incorporates new automation and virtualization technologies allowing different companies to share IT resources from a common service provider.

“”It is very clear that the customers want to pay for only the capacity that they use; the old business model of installing the computing required to handle only peak loads is becoming fairly obsolete,”” said Hossein Eslambolchi, president of AT&T Global Networking Technology Services. “”There is huge computing power out there that we haven’t yet tapped on and we need to think about using the server at the virtual level as compared to the physical level that we have been accustomed to over the past three to four decades.””

Networking environments having to adjust to a prefabricated applications and providers having to create dedicated networks to support some of their customers will soon be history, according to Eslambolchi.

In its place will be networks figuring out how to work with the user.

“”In the application-aware network environment the network adapts to the application based on the resource requirement and policy-based parameters that the customer sets,”” said Eslambolchi.

“”The network no longer stops at the router or the PBX (private branch exchange) or any geographic location. It now goes directly to the user, to the application, PDA (personal digital assistant) device, to the cell phone.””

The user-controlled network will provide the means for real-time provisioning of bandwidth as well as migration. Other benefits include assigning bandwidth based on customer application needs, and the ability to self-diagnose and heal problems, he said.


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