Soaring Demand Pushes Network Optimization Needs
With bandwidth-hogging applications proliferating and users becoming ever-more mobile and dispersed, government agencies are seeing increasing pressure on network capacity and performance.
“Technologies such as big data, cloud and mobile computing are changing the makeup of modern applications and services that run on them,” according to a recent report from market researcher Aberdeen Group. “Organizations are finding the old ways of managing performance and bandwidth usage no longer apply.”
Earlier this year, a survey by 1105 Government Information Group of federal, state and local IT professionals showed government organizations are well aware of this. Every respondent said they expected increases in daily network traffic over the next two years, well over half by 20 percent or more, and a significant fraction by more than 60 percent.
Little wonder, then, that those same IT professionals are looking for help in improving their networks’ performance. Some 41 percent of them rated the need for tools with which to prioritize network traffic as very critical, for example. A similar percentage rated the need “somewhat critical.”
Network optimization, which aims to boost the response and performance capabilities of both local and wide area networks, is the tool that agencies will use to provide this prioritization. Although many agencies have not felt the need to employ much optimization yet, even budget-constrained organizations soon might have no choice.
Optimization should aim at either reducing bandwidth needs or, more likely, sharply curtaining the growth curve for bandwidth demand, said John Burke, an analyst with Nemertes Research.
“The idea being that, if you put optimization in place here on the network, then you won’t have to increase bandwidth for the next four years, instead of in the next year,” he said. “If you can build a cost model to show that optimization will relieve the pressure of the increasing bandwidth demand from more staff, or from certain applications, then you have a business case for optimization.”
However, he said, it’s “definitely not a non-zero effort, and the more complicated your network is the harder it will be.”
In some cases, agencies might already have the tools they need. But if not, they are likely to find that the new tools will help them address several needs at once. To deal with the explosion in mobile device use, for example, agencies will have to use tools that fall into what Dan Shey, practice director in M2M, enterprise and verticals at ABI Research, said optimization tools might fall in a number of categories, the primary ones being mobile device, application, content, workspace and security management.
“As they relate to the enterprise network, particularly the LAN, all of these tools can help with optimization because they can ensure only approved applications are used, which are then optimized for the network they are on,” he said.
Not every agency will need to use optimization, particularly those that are relatively small and have a concentrated user base. The networks that are in place now, feeding information to and from a single data center, might already be operating efficiently enough to handle any foreseeable increase in demand.
Others, however, will not. Those who are consolidating data centers will need to make sure that there is sufficient bandwidth between those centers and remote offices. And as organizations increasingly go to the cloud for applications and services, they will need to make sure that their connections to clouds do not introduce latency problems that will affect overall network performance.
The one certainty for the future is that demand for network capacity will only increase and the expansion of bandwidth will not match that. In that scenario, network optimization becomes a necessity.