Cloud computing, unified communications and BYOD promise to bring big benefits to organizations, from greater collaboration and productivity to improved efficiency and lower costs.
However, the trends, which are hitting the data center at the same time, also pose some significant challenges, not the least of which is gaining enough visibility into the networks to ensure that the IT staff can properly manage and secure them, according to a survey by Network Instruments.
"The technologies are kind of being forced on them," Brad Reinboldt, senior product manager at Network Instruments, told eWEEK. "They need the technology," but need the tools to manage and monitor them properly.
Among the findings in Network Instruments' Sixth Annual State of the Network Global Study were that organizations are saying that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) technology is the most difficult to monitor, and that bandwidth demand will continue to spike as these new services and technologies are incorporated.
The survey by Network Instruments, which makes and sells network management solutions, was released July 23. The results were drawn from responses from 170 network engineers, IT directors and CIOs in a number of regions, including North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and South America.
For the various data center trends, the company found that most IT professionals understood the benefits cloud computing, BYOD, unified communications (UC) and faster bandwidth will bring to their companies, but also worried about managing and securing the company's data.
For many businesses, UC is quickly moving beyond voice over IP (VOIP) and into new areas, including videoconferencing, Web-based collaboration and messaging. VOIP deployments are staying around 70 percent, but 62 percent of respondents said they have deployed videoconferencing, and more than 60 percent have deployed instant messaging. Adoption of videoconferencing and instant messaging both grew more than 35 percent over the last four years, and more than half of organizations this year have deployed Web collaboration applications, such as Cisco Systems' WebEx.
"Traditionally, UC was very focused on the voice aspect," Charles Thompson, director of product strategy at Network Instruments, said in an interview with eWEEK. "We're really seeing people adopting more than just voice."
That's bringing with it some monitoring problems, Thompson said. More than two-thirds of the respondents said their biggest challenge is gaining visibility into the user experience, and UC tools won't be utilized to their full potential if users are reluctant to use them because of latency or jitter problems with the video, for example, he said.
Respondents also said they were concerned about the difficulties assessing bandwidth used by UC programs and the inability to view communications at the edge of the network.