Lack of bandwidth and huge traffic threatens to engulf companies

As storage, green technologies and compliance compete for budget, a significant proportion of companies believe their bandwidth requirements will double within five years

Around half of IT managers expect their bandwidth requirements to grow by over 50% in the next five years, but do not expect to see more than a 5% increase in their budgets according to research commissioned by Viatel.

The pan-European business communications provider’s survey  warns that  companies may stand to face serious WAN problems in the future with pressures such as storage, green technologies and compliance strongly competing for budget, and a significant proportion of companies (28%) believing that their bandwidth requirements would double within five years.

Driving this growth was the sheer weight of email and web traffic with 39% of the survey seeing this as the biggest contributor to the need for more bandwidth. 30% of the survey believed that VoIP and converging technologies such as video on demand would also have a significant effect on traffic in the future, and 18% attributed the increase in bandwidth requirements to supporting ERP and CRM systems.

"Having adequate WAN bandwidth is critical for almost all business activities today," said Michael Davies, product director, Viatel. "If companies do not have sufficient bandwidth, a number of problems can occur, including delays to external communications and business critical applications such as order processing, billing, ERP, finance and sales. This can translate directly to a loss of revenue as these processes are held up in congested networks. Considering that 20% of the survey expects their bandwidth requirements to grow by 150% or more, the problem may well reach boiling point in the next few years."

Even though 91% of the survey believed their bandwidth needs would grow significantly over the next five years, three quarters of the sample stated that increasing network bandwidth was not their top IT concern. Preparing for the impact of the downturn in the economy, as well as dealing with the worsening security climate were the clear priorities with over half (56%) of the sample making preparing and implementing business continuity plans the top  concerns  for the coming year.

Protecting the business against emerging IT security threats, such as denial-of-service attacks, also accounted for a large slice of IT managers' budgets.

This prompted a caution from Michael Davies. "It is understandable that putting business continuity in place and protecting business interests against security threats has risen to the top of the corporate agenda, but IT managers need to make sure that they don't neglect their bandwidth or networks could grind to a halt. Today, almost all business-critical processes run over the network, and in order for businesses to continue operating and trading as usual, IT managers need to make sure that they have enough bandwidth to support these processes," he said.

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