Planning Ahead

Planning Ahead

You'll probably be using a variety of capabilities for advanced networks sooner than you think.

Depending on whose numbers you believe, bandwidth usage is starting to inch north again. According to Gartner Inc., even slowly adopting companies are going to experience 15-fold growth in bandwidth use within four years. "Enterprises continue to experience network traffic growth rates in the 35 percent to 50 percent per year range," says Gartner vice president and research director Jay Pultz.

That's a far cry from the days when Internet traffic doubled every 90 days, but it's still a lot of growth, and not every company is prepared for it. "A lot of organizations don't have a good handle on their bandwidth requirements, and they're periodically faced with these bandwidth crises," says Giga's Slaby. "Much of the world spends its time reacting to problems in the network rather than anticipating them."

Analysts say IT departments can help themselves by better managing what they have, reducing bandwidth requirements through caching and other technologies. But sooner or later, you're going to need more bandwidth. That's when people like Don Newell, principal engineer at Intel's network architecture lab in Hillsboro, Ore., come in. He points to four areas that the chipmaker believes are critical for dealing with the sheer volume of corporate bandwidth requirements. IP will continue to grow as the transportation method of choice, taking over communications chores from a raft of proprietary communications protocols. Ethernet will do the same at the cabling level, even potentially overtaking schemes like Fibre Channel for connecting disks at high speed. Intelligence will continue its rapid creep into the network, with numerous pieces of equipment gaining smarts that will let them make decisions about everything from performance to security. And finally, a nonproprietary server architecture will keep servers from being potential bottlenecks in high-speed communications. All this means that you'll continue to see smarter equipment moving into the network at rapidly reduced cost.

But the real value of advanced networking will come when such connections are linked to customers and partners. All the strategic value of high-bandwidth wide-area connections— greater flexibility, rapid and better-quality communications, increased ability to gather and analyze data—provide far more benefit to the organization when enterprise resources can be married to those of other companies. That's one of the clear messages of the Internet2 initiative, where the connected universities are continually inventing new applications to take advantage of bandwidth with few limits.

Ask Your Network Architect:

How does our three-year strategic plan incorporate migration in these directions?

Ask Your Wide-Area Bandwidth ISPS:

Are you prepared to meet our ongoing bandwidth projections—at a reasonable cost?

Tell Your CFO:

As we devise new ways of leveraging bandwidth, we'll be suggesting a variety of strategic initiatives that will mean continuing investment in upgrading our network.

This article was originally published on 01-01-2003
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