Research commissioned by Viatel has shown that 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. With other pressures such as storage, green technologies and compliance strongly competing for budget, and a significant proportion of the survey (28%) believing that their bandwidth requirements would double within five years, companies may stand to face serious WAN problems in the future.
“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.”
The survey found a number of factors responsible for this expected growth. The sheer weight of email and web traffic was the largest perceived issue, 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.
However, although 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. Instead, preparing for the impact of the downturn in the economy, as well as dealing with the worsening security climate was a clear priority, with over half (56%) of the sample admitting that preparing and implementing business continuity plans was at the top of the list for the coming year. Introducing protection against emerging IT security threats, such as denial-of-service attacks, also accounted for a large slice of IT managers’ budgets.
“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,” commented Davies. “They should also re-evaluate their use of legacy technologies such as leased lines and dial-up, which are more expensive and less efficient than other technologies currently available. Only by doing this can IT managers create a network capable of withstanding the demands of the business.”