WANs could stand to get faster, survey finds

IT pros say WANop needs more money, attention – and maybe a little more respect

Nearly nine out of 10 respondents to a Talari Networks survey of IT professionals said that their wide area network was a problem for business-critical applications either occasionally or frequently, as WAN budgets are set to increase over the course of the coming year.

The survey of more than 200 also highlighted the under-the-radar nature of WAN's role in many IT organizations, as just one in five respondents said that senior management fully grasped the importance of WAN as a strategic asset.

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Talari president and CEO Emerick Woods said in a statement that this is indicative of a “strong disconnect” between IT and management.

“While often difficult to fulfill [WAN] requirements, the ramifications of degraded network performance can bring a company to a complete halt, resulting in lost revenue and customers,” he said.

There are some signs that this is changing, however. Talari's survey found that roughly three times as many respondents expected an increase to their WAN budgets compared to those that expected a decrease, 45% to 15%. That said, this still implies that a majority of respondents expect their WAN budgets to either decrease or stay the same.

The survey delved deeper into specific WAN technologies, as well. The most common, by some distance, were Internet and MPLS, with relay frame and ATM trailing behind. Internet is predicted to grow more quickly than MPLS, though both will outgrow the smaller technologies.

For Internet-based services, the biggest driver of increased WAN demand was – unsurprisingly – public cloud applications, while MPLS traffic was spiked  by traditional enterprise applications, more often than not. The most common concerns cited for Internet technology were security, at 27%, and uptime, at 28%. MPLS users were most concerned about cost, at 43%, and uptime, at 24%.

WAN optimization is a market in flux, as the structural need for a functioning WAN is obvious, but demand hasn't been as strong as it has for other network management services. A 2013 Infonetics study found that sales of traditional WAN optimization offerings have been flagging, in comparison to other network management tools.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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