Security is network professionals’ top priority for 2014

New research from TechTarget and Computer Weekly shows networking professionals see security as the biggest priority for 2014, whilst they claim the vendors’ favourite – software defined networking – is just not ready yet

The main priority for networking professionals in the coming 12 months is to ensure their network is secure, according to research by TechTarget and Computer Weekly.

We spoke to over 600 IT pros working on networking in IT departments across Europe for its annual purchase intentions survey, from industries including education, manufacturing, finance and government.

Of the respondents, 27% said network security was the biggest priority for 2014, while 50% said security was the main business issue driving investments into networks.

However, most budgets for networking will remain the same, according to 38% of respondents. Just 28% believed their funds would increase, but this was compared to the unlucky 18% who expected them to fall in the next 12 months.

Wireless technologies were also named by 27% as a major priority for the third consecutive year. The main driver was bring your own device (BYOD) schemes, according to 73% of respondents, while 67% wanted it for video and multimedia delivery.

Yet wireless was still not considered as the primary way to access the network and just 22% were planning to replace traditional local area networks with wireless local area networks in the next year.

There was also some reluctance in upgrading to the new 802.11ac wireless standard, with only 20% saying they would do so in 2014.

These technologies have been part of the networking landscape for some time, but the report suggested those in networking were taking a more cautious approach to newer solutions.

Despite all the noise from vendors around software defined networking (SDN), just 17% of our respondents said they were using, planning to use or evaluating SDN in 2014. The main issue was the lack of information surrounding the technology, and they wanted to see it in practice before investing in it themselves. However, many also said they were still happy with their traditional infrastructure so felt no need to move.

For 21%, SDN was ranked lower than all other networking projects and another 21% said it wasn’t on their project landscape at all, whereas just 12% cited SDN as their top networking priority.

The survey did show there was a chance for new vendors to compete with the old guard though, with just under 60% saying they would want to buy technologies from SDN specialists, as well as their current networking providers. Almost 40% also said they would be willing to change their current vendor to benefit from more SDN knowledge.

Cisco was still the dominant vendor for most of our respondents though, with almost 80% naming the firm as their primary network hardware provider. HP came in second with 35% and Juniper Networks took third spot with just over 20%.

Networking professionals are set for many challenges in 2014, with the biggest – according to 44% of respondents – keeping IT and corporate goals aligned.

The previously mentioned budgets were also an issue for 34% as they worried they would not have enough money to spend on technologies to keep up with the expectations of their companies. Just over 20% were also concerned about the continued moved to the cloud and the transfer of applications into the new environment.

Read more on Network security strategy