Firms drum gigabit beat

IT shops in Canada are showing a healthy uptake of new and improved network technologies designed for faster connectivity and increased capacity, wireless mobility and enhanced security.

Network World Canada recently conducted a Hewlett-Packard ProCurve-sponsored survey of 272 Canadian CIOs, systems administrators and network managers to determine the latest trends in networking technology and IT spending.

The results reveal that Canadian companies are moving towards Gigabit Ethernet speeds to connect their servers, more than half have gone wireless and that security and manageability are the two most influential factors in IT spending.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents say they have hooked up at least a portion of their server clusters with gigabit-per-second Ethernet capability. The vast majority of machines are still using 10/100Mbps connectivity, however.

The study’s findings clearly show that mainstream adoption of 10Gbps Ethernet (10GigE) is a while away yet.

Most organizations (185, or 68 per cent) report that not one of their servers is connected via 10GigE. And of the 24 per cent that are, 19 per cent say they are using 10GigE for less than 10 per cent of their servers.

Packets of data running at 1Gbps are more widespread, with 12 per cent of IT shops having implemented Gigabit Ethernet in more than 75 per cent of their servers.

The majority (173 users, or 60 per cent) have 1Gbps throughput in less than half of their servers and 68 of these (25 per cent) take up 10 per cent or less of total rack space.

Canada’s mobile workers are more connected than not. Wireless LANs have been implemented by 54 per cent those surveyed, and another 17 per cent say they plan to go wireless within the next two years.

The motivating drivers are improved productivity of workers (43 per cent), enabling applications that address specific business needs (36 per cent) and providing guest access (33 per cent). Some companies (19 per cent) aren’t sure why they’re going wireless.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) and wireless encryption standard (WEP) are the leading technologies being deployed to enable mobility, followed by wireless protected access (WPA).

The most overwhelming concern with going wireless is far and away security management, with a 91 per cent positive response rate.

More than half the organizations surveyed fear poor network performance and a third are uneasy over radio frequency interference.

In LAN equipment Cisco Systems commands 83 per cent of companies’ consideration when evaluating products.

3Com is considered by 44 per cent of respondents, D-Link 39 per cent, Nortel Networks 34 per cent, HP ProCurve 26 per cent, Dell 18 per cent, Foundry 7 per cent and Extreme 4 per cent.

Canadian companies are investing in better switching technology mainly to increase network capacity (77 per cent), improve management capability (42 per cent) and decrease network downtime (40 per cent).

Enhanced security, lower operating costs, enabling new applications such as VoIP, and extending the life of the network are considerations mentioned.

The decisive factor in purchasing switches remains low pricing, which isn’t surprising considering the biggest barrier in LAN investment (listed by 70 per cent of respondents) is capital funds.

A total of 45 per cent of respondents say they are more apt to look for a limited feature set at a lower entry price, with the ability to upgrade in their network equipment purchases.

Factors ranked as key in purchase decisions are cost (73 per cent), management capabilities (46 per cent), quality of service (QoS) function (34 per cent) and corporate standards (32 per cent).

Most Canadian networks, according to survey repsondents, are safeguarded with common security features like anti-virus (95 per cent), firewall and VPN (93 per cent) and anti-spam software (77 per cent), but intrusion detection (42 per cent) and prevention systems (27 per cent) have more limited deployments.

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