Network budgets, at least the data-center segment (10% compound annual growth through 2017), are outpacing overall IT budget growth (3.9% for 2013), but with network demands growing in double and triple digits, just throwing more money at the problem won’t do. Your network not only has to be bigger and faster, it has to be smarter, i.e. optimized.
Crehan predicts strong growth in 10, 40, and 100 Gigabit Ethernet solutions through this period. The company expects “exponential growth in 10GBASE-T switch port shipments,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research. The upgrade to 10GbE switches in the server access layer should drive 40GbE deployments in the uplink, aggregation, and core sectors of data center networks, while its QSFP interface can be used as four individual 10GbE links which not only provides very high 10GbE switch port density, but also gives uplink/downlink and oversubscription/wire-speed flexibility. Crehan adds that there will also be robust increases for 100GbE switches, though prices and port densities have a way to go before it achieves a meaningful market impact.
However, while networks move from 1GbE to higher speeds, cloud-based network traffic is expected to grow 600% by 2016. Data center traffic will increase 400% during this period.
Wait, it gets worse. Most IT departments (81%) said the growing demand for network bandwidth is one of the most critical issues facing data centers today, while 52% said that their need for network I/O increases by 60% or more annually. And almost half (45%) of all networks are expected to be obsolete by 2017.
Slow networks can also be costly. When web response times increased from 2 to 8 seconds, one report states, there was a 38% jump in page abandonment rates. Aberdeen Group found a one second increase in response time reduced conversion rates by 7%, page views by 11%, and customer satisfaction rates by 17%.
Increasing network bandwidth is not always practical, affordable, or the appropriate solution. Sometimes it’s about reducing application response time and latency, i.e. round trip time (RTT): the time it takes to send data to a device and to receive a response. While adding bandwidth can eventually level off, improvements in latency continue to improve page loading times.
So for the gift that keeps on giving, you should also consider network/WAN optimization as well as more bandwidth.