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Senior Editor

Network World: Edge, Intent-based networking are all the rage; IT networking budgets rise

News Analysis
Aug 02, 20185 mins
AnalyticsData CenterNetworking

Network World 8th annual State of the Network survey looks at high-priority SDN, IBN, SD-WAN, network-security trends.

man on cliff network world logo edge computing circuitry city
Credit: Getty Images / Network World

As distributed resources from wired, wireless, cloud and Internet of Things networks grow, the need for a more intelligent network edge is growing with it.

Network World’s 8th annual State of the Network survey shows the growing importance of edge networking, finding that 56% of respondents have plans for edge computing in their organizations.

Typically, edge networking entails sending data to a local device that includes compute, storage and network connectivity in a small form factor. Data is processed at the edge, and all or a portion of it is sent to the central processing or storage repository in a corporate data center or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud.

 “Computing is moving closer to the edge of the network, giving organizations the ability to analyze data in near real-time,” the study says.  “Edge computing reduces latency because data does not have to traverse over a network to a data center or cloud for processing.”

The Network World 2018 State of the Network study is based on 268 completed surveys from respondents with a wide variety of duties, including application development, cloud services, computing hardware, data center, data analytics and telecommunications. The study was conducted among the audiences of six IDG Communications’ brands (CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World) representing IT and security decision-makers.

Edge networking was only one of the areas of growing interest revealed in the study.  Another hot technology is Intent-Based Networking (IBN) which basically employs automation, analytics, intelligent software and policies that let network administrators define what they want the network to do.

Cisco, Juniper along with startups such as Apstra have made IBN technology a relatively new industry buzzword and the study proves that out: More than half of network professionals that we surveyed are familiar with intent-based networking (54%), and one-third of them work at companies with IT budgets of more than $1 billion.

“It’s not surprising then that only 3% report adoption of an intent-based network and 8% are beginning to execute an intent-based networking strategy, including investing in SDN [software-defined networking], virtualization, machine learning, model-based APIs and security tools. A larger pool (38%) have not yet considered this strategy but plan to begin research in the next 12 months,” Network World wrote.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents say they are actively researching SDN while 11% said they had it in production and 10% said they were piloting the technology. IDC predicts the SDN market will continue to grow at a 25.4% compound annual growth rate to $13.8 billion by 2021.

“For organizations to keep up with the fast-paced network that business requires, they’ve had to shift to SDN which enables the network to interface with applications directly via application programming interfaces rather than going through the command line interface,” Network World stated.

A 2017 survey by Network World of 294 networking professionals found that 49% were either considering or actively piloting an SDN implementation; 18% have an SDN installed already. .

A subset of SDN is SD-WAN, another hot technology that promises to virtualize branch and distributing network resources making them easier and less costly to manage. 

According to the study, 63% of organization have current plans for SD-WAN technology. Increased resiliency and increased agility thanks to software control are among the top potential benefits of SD-WAN technology.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Network professionals are keeping security top-of-mind when allocating budget for the year. Sixty-one percent expect their network security budget to increase, along with application development (61%) and cloud services (60%). They were the top three slated for budget increases last year, too, according to results of the 2017 survey.
  • IoT efforts are being delayed a bit, with 46% planning to pick up efforts in the next 1-3 years and 32% reporting that they have no immediate plans.
  • The majority of respondents report having on-premises data centers (61%) vs. cloud models such as platform as a service (PaaS)  or IaaS (30%). Of those who currently have on-premises data centers, 29% have plans to move to the cloud in the next 12-24 months. There seems to be some hesitance around moving everything to the cloud immediately. Because it is an external form of computing, it could be perceived as more vulnerable to security threats, and this could be why organizations are waiting to make the leap.
  • Organizations are paying attention to converged infrastructure and are mapping out implementation plans over the next year. Sixty-nine percent (up from 65% in 2017) of organizations have plans to implement converged systems over the next 12 months and 63% (up from 62% in 2017) have plans to implement hyper-converged systems in the next year.
  • Hyper-converged infrastructure is still an emerging data-center technology, but nearly half of organizations (47%) surveyed plan to implement converged and or hyper-converged systems in the next 12 months. Fifteen percent of IT decision-makers say their organization already has converged or hyper-converged systems in place.
  • Overall, 48% of network professionals are usually/always initiating collaboration with other business departments, up from 40% last year. Thirty-six percent of individuals say that the networking team “sometimes” initiates the collaboration between other areas of business, a decreased from 49% in 2017.