Nick Tidd’s Top Technology Trends for 2003

As the new year approaches, Nick Tidd, the president of 3Com Canada has outlined seven areas where the business climate will either change or become a hot market. The channel will again be vital in 2003, according to him. And, finally wireless will be a must-have instead of nice-to-have technology.


Businesses Requiring Network Optimization

IT spending today has less to do with rolling out new technologies and more to do with improving the performance, reliability and operation of the equipment that is already in place in order to meet the objectives of the business. Businesses are planning to build out their networks with easily expandable technologies, instead of paying for equipment that is limiting or weak in business value. An example of network optimization is unlocking the advanced capabilities in the network to support new Web-enabled applications that will drive higher productivity.

Another example is streamlining and simplifying the network management to avoid problems that would otherwise raise operational costs. A third example is a customer building on existing technology to accommodate more employees or greater network traffic requirements. In 2003, network managers will use more creative means to get more value out of their existing resources. “”Users love cool technology, but these days they’re more interested in bang for their buck. Products and services that offer immediate benefits, such as better security or lower operating costs, will flourish in 2003,”” according to Forrester Research report “”Infrastructure North America: Business Technographics Overview”” (October 2002).

Enhancements to a More Comprehensive, Layered Approach to Security

Businesses will address security risks with a more holistic approach, including both technologies and practices. While 2002 brought a heightened awareness of security as many firms re-evaluated their risks, the year 2003 will bring more attention to addressing solutions to mitigate the broader array of risks. Among the top issues for many organizations will be the growing need for security education among IT buyers and the lack of in-house expertise on the intricacies of network security.

Organizations will increasingly turn to third parties (including manufacturers, VARs and consultants) to develop comprehensive security policies to guide security implementations.

Additionally, firms will seek to combine technologies into multi-layer security implementations rather than rely upon a fragmented assortment of point products to secure the enterprise. Best described as “”layered security,”” businesses will increasingly look to provide maximum security protection at multiple levels and entry points on the network, using technologies such as 802.1x, embedded firewalls and integrated perimeter firewalls. “”Most enterprises treat security as a black hole into which they throw money with unknown results. But as they rationalize their security architectures and quantify security risks and returns, firms will seize on the cost savings of outsourcing security to [third parties],”” according to Forrester Research report “”IT Security’s Awkward Adolescence”” (August 2002).

Increasing Use of “”Intelligence”” at the Network Edge to Deliver “”Ease of Use””

In 2003, ease of use will be paramount as more intelligence is pushed to the network edge. This continues the progress made in 2002 for adding more “”edge”” intelligence to enable easier network set up and management and signals the final demise of the circa-1998 proclamation that intelligence would excel at the core of the network and the edge would become commoditized. But “”easy to use”” does not mean “”simple.”” In fact, where networks are concerned, “”easy to use”” often requires significant intelligence in the form of sophisticated technology to deliver the robust features and flexibility required in many-enterprise environments.

As IT managers grapple with increasingly distributed enterprise networking environments (branch offices and telecommuters) as well as the demand for new applications

(Web, voice and wireless), they will increasingly demand solutions that “”self configure”” or adapt to new usage requirements in a way that eases management, increases control and minimizes the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Increasing Adoption of Wireless as a “”Must-Have”” in an Enterprise

In 2003, wireless LANs (WLANs) will shift dramatically from 2002’s “”nice-to-have”” to a new year’s “”must-have”” because of the need for more mobile access to business-critical information and lower costs for wiring or rewiring a building. Proof for this trend lies in the continued growth in enterprise WLAN purchases, despite widespread, depressed economic conditions. WLAN remains one of the very few new technology areas where enterprises are still spending significantly.

According to IDC Canada, the wireless network infrastructure market is starting to take hold globally. Sales of wireless LAN equipment last year reached $1.5 billion (US) worldwide. It is expected to double to $3 billion (US) in 2005.

The reason is simple: wireless access enables employees to access information quickly and securely anywhere in the enterprise, facilitating faster decision-making based on access to unlimited information either on corporate databases or the Internet. Gartner Dataquest reported that “”the primary driver”” for wireless LANs is “”the growing demand for bandwidth to allow portable PCs to have more flexible access e-mail, Web content and corporate applications.”” Because the mobile devices and applications already exist, Gartner Dataquest made the point that the growth of the wireless LAN market does not depend on the new emergence of “”killer”” applications or devices.

Increasing Demand for Affordable, High Availability Networking Solutions

In 2002, the trend was toward higher availability at the network core. In 2003, the trend will expand to include higher availability at the network edge (including the workgroup aggregation point) – essentially, closer to the users. Traditionally, expensive and complex high availability offerings for the enterprise were relegated to network cores and data centers. However, increasing awareness and adoption of mission critical applications, such as voice and virtualized storage running over Ethernet LANs, will drive demand for high availability networking solutions at the edge of the network. Because more people are using mission-critical applications over Ethernet, businesses are demanding higher availability. This will be achieved through distributed networking, utilizing hot-swappable components in wiring closets

Lowering Costs of Metropolitan Area Networks through eMANs

Despite a sluggish economy, companies, schools, hospitals and governments can reduce the costs of networking for metro areas by implementing Ethernet MAN (eMAN) technologies, which will also increase the speed of network connections. Because Ethernet is low cost, it creates a compelling business case for building eMANs to link various offices or agencies across a metro area through network connections. An eMAN solution is a smart alternative to SONET, which is an older technology for metro connectivity between sites.

Increased Focus on Multi-site IP Telephony

With the rapid and successful adoption of IP telephony solutions at single sites, more organizations (businesses, schools, local governments) will begin to deploy IP telephony solutions across multiple locations in 2003. These organizations are looking to distribute the advantages and benefits of IP telephony to all of its offices and employees while leveraging existing technology and infrastructure. Organizations will be able to save significant costs by running multi-site IP telephony. One key advantage is that a business can bypass expensive domestic and international toll by routing the voice traffic over the WAN. In addition, the management of a single IP-based system can result in substantial savings for an organization in regards to maintenance costs and human resources. IP telephony will become more common in branch/remote offices, requiring improved capabilities for managing the multiple sites and integrating with legacy PBX systems. According to Frost & Sullivan, in 2001, the number of IP Telephony PBX line shipments represented less than 10 per cent of the total number of CPE lines shipped in Canada, a substantial increase over 2000.

Hence, IP PBX desktops are expected to account for more than half of the total number of stations shipped in Canada by 2005.

As Managing Director of 3Com Canada, Nick Tidd manages the sales and marketing for 3Com’s technology across the country.

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