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IT Priorities 2018: Networking spend declining across the board

Overall spending on networking projects across EMEA looks set to decline in 2018, according to the latest ComputerWeekly/TechTarget IT Priorities report

Spending on networking projects among enterprises in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea) is set to decrease year-on-year across the board, with spending on internet of things (IoT) infrastructure the worst hit, down 52%, suggesting that the IoT has fallen into Gartner’s fabled “Trough of Disillusionment”, according to the 2018 ComputerWeekly/TechTarget IT Priorities report.

While the wider industry indicators from across the region surveyed showed budgets on the up, and pointed to a major increase in activity around the cloud, the evidence also showed that networking technology figured less and less in the plans of the 1,875 IT decision-makers surveyed, of whom 31% said their overall budget for on-premise networking would decrease this year.

The results pointed to year-on-year declines in spending on application performance management, down 46%; application delivery controllers (ADCs), down 45%; software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), down 41%; and software-defined networking (SDN), down 38%.

Other networking initiatives, including DNS/DHCP management and monitoring, virtual private networks (VPNs), WAN optimisation, network monitoring and unified communications (UC) apps and platforms were also down.

Network security biggest driver for remaining spend

The 2017 edition of the annual IT Priorities survey revealed growing interest in those areas of networking with a closer relationship to the world of cyber security, such as DNS/DCHP management, network monitoring tools and VPNs, which could be an indicator that many enterprises have now been through the necessary upgrades or refresh cycles.

Despite the forecast drop in overall interest, those businesses that were preparing to invest in the network continued to invest at the intersection of networking and security, with the most popular initiatives found to be, again, network management and monitoring, with 22% planning to invest, and VPNs and network access control (NAC), with 19% planning to invest.

Explore the IT Priorities data

Upgrades and improvements to private, public and multi-cloud connectivity was also one of the top network initiatives, with 16% of respondents planning to invest here, and this reflected the wider trend towards cloud adoption.

Of less interest to decision-makers were software-defined networking (SDN), where only 7% planned to invest, and the relatively new technology of intent-based networking (IBN), where only 5% had plans to spend, although here a lack of widespread awareness was undoubtedly a factor.

At the bottom of the list for networking-specific implementations were spending on the means to support the IoT; a mere 2% of respondents said they planned to implement an IoT infrastructure initiative, and just 1% IoT-specific connectivity (such as ZigBee and LoRa).

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