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Video Conferencing Now Mainstream in the Enterprise While SDN Needs Further Definition

May 30, 2014

Video conferencing adoption has become mainstream in the enterprise while software-defined networks (SDN) are still struggling to be understood and adopted. There are a variety of new technology trends catching the interest of IT professionals according to a new study from Network Instruments, and yet an overwhelming area of concern continues to be pinpointing the origin of problems.

The company has released its seventh annual State of the Network Global Study, in which it surveyed more than 240 IT workers about which new technologies interest them and which continue to provide headaches. For the seventh year in a row, respondents griped that they struggle with pinpointing whether problems arise in the network, system or application. With the number of new technologies and applications being rolled out on a continuous basis, this becomes even more confusing.

Video conferencing is one of those disruptive technologies, and one that is taking off at an astounding rate. According to the study, video conferencing services have a 63 percent enterprise adoption rate and have almost caught up with VoIP, which is at just more than 70 percent. But while VoIP has had a steady increase in adoption, video conferencing has taken off over the past five years, with implementations more than doubling from 2009’s 25 percent adoption rate. Enterprise IM and Web collaboration applications are also on the rise, at 49 percent and 46 percent respectively.

And yet IT teams are struggling to assess the impact of video and unified communications services on other applications as well as the overall health of the network. Respondents also indicated they would need to increase their organization’s bandwidth by as much as 50 percent over the next year, with 15 percent expecting bandwidth requirements to double. That represents both a challenge and an opportunity as IT departments look for ways to consume and deliver resources both cost effectively and efficiently.

That’s where SDN comes into play, offering an entirely new way of designing and operating networks to meet the needs of demanding applications. Of course, SDN is still in an early adoption phase and a majority of those participating in the study indicated they are waiting to see how it evolves before making any plans around it. But 22 percent of respondents said they have plans to deploy some type of SDN solution by the end of the year.

Network Instruments found that one in three of those queried will ultimately deploy SDN by the end of 2015, fueled by a need to make their IT infrastructure more responsive to demanding applications and technologies. IT departments are also interested in the ability to dynamically adjust and scale resources to meet fluctuating demand as well as having a means to roll out new services quickly.

Interestingly, when respondents were asked to define SDN, a majority could not. In fact, 37 percent said it was undefined, “like a trip without a roadmap.” Another 34 percent described it as an automated provisioning of network resources.

Other popular definitions include replacing tools for network traffic optimization and acceleration with software; shaping network traffic without having physical access to network hardware; and orchestrating network traffic across multiple monitoring tools. SDN may be all of those things and then some, and it remains to be seen how it will be implemented on a large scale. But if the Network Instruments’ study is any indication, adoption is definitely happening soon.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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