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Mobility, video and cloud will drive network revenues up 8.7% in 2012, IDC says

A perfect storm of growth in enterprise mobility, video consumption and cloud infrastructure will come together just in time for a major refresh cycle in 2012, driving worldwide enterprise network revenues to $39.4 billion by the end of the year, IDC predicts.

Based on its research during the third quarter of 2011, IDC forecasts 8.7% growth in enterprise network equipment spending in 2012, a substantial increase from the 3.8% growth the firm saw in the market last year. Another contributing factor is the end of many companies' five-year refresh cycles for network equipment purchases and upgrades, according to IDC.

Cindy Borovick, research vice president for IDC's Enterprise Communications and Datacenter Network services, says spending will rise because "the enterprise network is becoming much more critical" to high-priority business initiatives that will gain further momentum this year.

"When you think about planning for 2012, certainly cloud, mobility and video will drive the market," Borovick says.

CONSUMERIZATION: Creates IT management blind spots, increases business risk

The effect of mobility on the network stems from continued rapid growth in smartphone shipments, which doubled those of laptops last year, IDC says.

"As we saw last year in 2011, mobility clearly made a lot of waves, raised a lot of flags in terms of the best ways to contain handheld growth from a technology perspective and from a business perspective, while empowering users with the devices of their choice," says Rohit Mehra, IDC's director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure.

Sales of consumer-targeted mobile devices will continue to have an impact on the enterprise, with employees further perpetuating the bring-your-own-device trend that has gained momentum in the past few years. Consumerization will generate an increase in network equipment spending as more companies reevaluate their network resources in order to support a diverse range of smartphones and tablets.

However, the rise of consumerization does not mean the end of traditional enterprise mobility practices, according to Mehra.

"BYOD will continue to proliferate. At the same time, with IT now getting more of a handle on these devices, and corporate policy starting to change, we see that BYOD will not take over the enterprise," Mehra says. "I think we are well on our way to finding the right balance between BYOD and other ways that corporate IT supports mobile devices."

Similarly, video consumption in the enterprise will also grow as a result of consumer activity on enterprise networks, IDC predicts. In 2011, an estimated 590 million people around the globe watched streaming video over the Web. With more employees, especially those with mobile devices, now connected to social media and entertainment sites more often, the amount of video content employees access on the company network is set to rise.

When combined with enterprise use of video, which will range from digital marketing initiatives to the growing trend in videoconferencing, video will be the main driver for enterprise network upgrades in 2012, IDC says.

Similarly, a shift in the way businesses approach the cloud will also generate a massive increase in network equipment spending. According to Borovick, many companies have so far approached the cloud in "ad hoc" fashion, migrating only specific applications at the time that they need them. In 2012, the enterprise migration to the cloud will become so much more dynamic that businesses will reach a breaking point, IDC predicts, and will invest in the WAN to prepare for widespread cloud deployment.

"It's really about moving away from the current piecemeal approach to bringing the WAN into the era of the cloud, and bringing a level of simplicity to the network architecture so it's easier to manage," Borovick says.

Ethernet switch spending will account for the majority of global enterprise network revenue, at 51%, followed by IP telephony at 21% and WLAN equipment at 9%, IDC predicts.

By 2013, these trends will further change the face of the worldwide enterprise network market, pushing revenues to $42.5 billion, according to IDC.

Colin Neagle covers Microsoft security and network management for Network World. Keep up with his blog: Rated Critical, follow him on Twitter: @ntwrkwrldneagle. Colin's email is cneagle@nww.com.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.


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