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IT Priorities 2017: Buyers look for network privacy, visibility tools

The 2017 Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities survey shows growing interest in network privacy, security and management, but SDN and NFV are still lagging

An uncertain geopolitical environment, an ongoing outbreak of data breaches, high-profile distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and countless other security-related issues will cause UK enterprise IT managers and CIOs to double down on privacy and network monitoring spend in 2017, according to the latest Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities report.

The annual survey of UK and European IT buyers found that the top networking initiative planned for 2017 was virtual private network (VPN) implementation, favoured for enabling staff to work securely and remotely by providing an encrypted connection into corporate systems over the public internet.

More buyers said that they were also considering spending on domain name system (DNS) and dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) monitoring and management, and more general network management and monitoring tools, in 2017.

This trend appears to reflect more widespread concerns among enterprises over network security in the wake of a growing number of cyber attacks, many perpetrated by apparent nation state-level actors, and in the last couple of months by compromised internet of things (IoT) devices co-opted into botnets.

It may also reflect the rapidly changing and unpredictable worldwide political environment. According to Venture Beat, the election of controversial businessman Donald Trump as US president has been greeted with dismay by many security experts and has seen consumers ramp up their use of secure communication channels.

Anecdotal evidence from application market monitors has suggested that secure consumer messaging and VPN applications saw a spike in downloads after Trump’s 8 November victory.

Mobile security and optimisation projects were also high on the agenda, with many IT buyers interested in branch office and remote connectivity, mobile network monitoring, and enterprise mobility management as key priorities for 2017.

However, by far the most popular mobility project slated by buyers for 2017 is the deployment of enterprise applications, more specifically mobile collaboration applications. Evergreen, repeatable mobile projects such as the implementation of programmes for bring-your-own or corporate-issued devices were cited by many, but wearable technology failed to pique the interest of the enterprise world, with few survey respondents saying they would consider it next year.

SDN and NFV low down the pecking order, IoT hots up

In the past 12 months, software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) have begun to gradually move beyond the telecoms and communication sectors – where they were initially deployed to support vast customer-facing networks – and into other verticals, including university campuses and public and private sector organisations with many distributed sites.

However, even with more early adopters now starting to move on their deployments, comparatively few mainstream buyers were following suit, which suggests the industry still has much work to do when it comes to selling the true benefits of the interwoven technologies.

Interest in SDN actually dropped over the past 12 months, relative to the 2016 IT Priorities survey, while NFV grew, but not by much.

IoT technology started the journey towards widespread enterprise deployment during 2016, and for the first time the survey asked respondents for details on their planned use of IoT platforms.

Just under 35% of respondents to this question said they planned to use a cloud-based or analytic platform, followed by platforms for hardware and software in a thing or endpoint device, end-to-end platforms, and platforms to simplify mobile connections. Only 7% of respondents said they were not planning to make use of an IoT platform.

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