To help prepare for the challenges facing the networking industry next year, a variety of industry analysts offered SearchNetworkingUK their networking 2012 predictions, addressing the transition from wireline to wireless networks, an increasingly mobile workforce, cloud computing and consumerisation and the effects that all of these changes will have on existing networks.
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Mark Hung, research director, Gartner Research
By 2016, several emerging technologies will be mature enough, in terms of performance and cost, to replace the existing wired networking and cabling solutions:
- Networking: The 802.11ac wireless networking variant of Wi-Fi will offer a performance equivalent to Gigabit Ethernet. The standard will be finalised in the second half of 2012, with products supporting the standard on the market by the end of 2012.
- Cabling: The 802.11ad variant of Wi-Fi, using the 60 GHz spectrum, will offer up to 7 Gbps of throughput. This is enough to support uncompressed 1080p high-definition (HD) video. This level of performance is also comparable with that of the latest incarnations of wired connectivity technologies, such as Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. The standard will be finalised in the second half of 2012, with products on the market by the end of 2012. Using traditional 802.11n, Wi-Fi Display can also enable remote display capabilities when it is standardized at the end of 2011.
- Bluetooth 4.0+HS: By utilising the 802.11 physical layer technology, Bluetooth 4.0+HS can support high-speed data transfer applications while maintaining backward compatibility. Wireless power technologies -- both radiated and inductive --will not be mature enough to supplant wired/conductive power in this time frame.
There will be market implications that result from these replacements. For enterprises, workspace design and deployment can be simplified and made flexible with the reduction in wiring. In addition, workers can be more mobile and productive with the reduced need to be tethered to a designated work space.
Wireless infrastructure planning, on the other hand, becomes more critical because of the increased needs of each user. Both capacity planning and radio interference reduction are important factors to consider when moving to an all-wireless enterprise environment.
By eliminating the need for wired connectors on the devices, electronic equipment manufacturers (EEMs) will have more flexibility with the industrial design of the next generation of computing and communication devices.
Enterprises should take advantage of the increased flexibility of an all-wireless workspace and tailor their work environments so that they are best-suited for their employees' and customers' needs. EEMs and semiconductor vendors should take advantage of the emerging wireless technologies, such as 802.11ac/ad, to accelerate wireless adoption in a greater number of devices, including voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), phones, PCs and wireless infrastructure equipment.
Holger Kisker, principal analyst, Forrester Research
As companies quickly adopt a variety of cloud resources, they’ll increasingly have to address working with several different cloud solutions, often from different providers. By the end of 2012, cloud customers will already be using more than 10 different cloud apps on average. Cloud orchestration will become a big topic and an opportunity for service providers. While 2011 still witnessed different stakeholders within a company brokering a lot of cloud deals -- sometimes unsanctioned by IT - -most companies will have established their formal cloud strategy by the end 2012, including the business models between IT and lines of business for their own private cloud resources. Initially slower to adapt to the cloud than small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), large enterprises have begun to understand the main benefits of cloud services — such as scalability, speed, flexibility and remote user support. So, large enterprises spent 2011 mostly catching up, and by 2012, they will be leading in cloud adoption rates in every cloud segment compared with SMBs.
Karim Sabbagh, senior partner, Booz & Company.
The largest networking firms have a real opportunity to expand their businesses into multiple segments and markets through a combination of new business models. The goal is this: To build value by creating synergies among different segments and markets by managing portfolios effectively and by replicating the necessary capabilities from market to market. Success with the models will require two key capabilities:
- Proficiency in going global -- organising, operating and marketing across many different geographies, and thus thinking both globally and locally; and
- The capacity to develop different business models and accompanying capabilities that can be replicated in different markets without increasing overall complexity.
For those who have not done so already, 2012 is the year to determine which model or combination of models will work best for them and figure out how quickly to begin making the transition. This, of course, will depend on where they currently play, the capabilities they already possess and how successfully they can match those capabilities with the new ones that will be needed. We expect that the network guarantor model will appeal primarily to incumbents that already operate large-scale infrastructures in either mature or developing markets, or both. The most likely candidates for the business-enabler model include incumbents that have already begun opening up their networks and assets to third parties, or plan to do so, and new challengers that have already embraced the concept and can now build on their partner management and wholesaling capabilities.
All in all, we expect in the year 2012 that the trends now transforming the networking industry will come into sharper focus, allowing greater clarity into the future roles of every vendor.