Survey reveals that sixty per cent view fabric technologies as the future of networks
Data centre availability is a leading concern, according to the key findings of Brocade’s annual Channel Survey 2013 Report, which aims to uncover the main trends, pain points and opportunities for organisations delivering IT solutions that drive the networks of some of the world’s largest companies. The survey had more than 350 respondents comprising the vendor’s global channel players, and includes inputs from a large number of resellers and systems integrators from the Middle East region.
Sixty percent stated that end users view fabric technologies as the future of networks. While organisations understand the capabilities and benefits of fabric-based networking, investment into new technologies fall short, with a quarter of enterprises not making any significant upgrades to their data centre networks in the past three years.
Khaled Kamel, territory channel manager MENA at Brocade Communications, says: “Recent research points to the fact that enterprises in the Middle East region only upgrade their networks when there is a breakdown or when they want to introduce a new technology that their current networks cannot support. This is a reactive approach and this mindset needs to change.”
According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data 2013, up to 65 per cent of IT budgets are currently allocated to simply “keeping the network running”. This investment, though significant, yields no commercial advantage and with 61 per cent of Brocade’s respondents claiming that their customer networks are “not fit for purpose”, the ability of these organisations to rapidly and flexibly deploy advanced data centre networking solutions is hampered.
These shortcomings in networking investments may be the result of financial constraints. Sixty two per cent of the channel identified tight budgets as having a “significant impact” on customers’ ability to invest in technology. For vendors, this could be an opportunity to drive business by extending financial support to their partners – a measure that 63 percent of respondents believe would become “vital” or “more important” over the next few years.
This support could prove to be the impetus for a new wave of IT spending, allowing customers to address the survey’s top five drivers of network investments – the desire to adopt virtualisation (41 per cent), demand for faster access to data and applications (41 per cent), demand for greater bandwidth (32 per cent), the need to support increasing data volumes (25 per cent), and the need to support mobility (24 per cent).
Cloud computing is a popular trend in the Middle East region. Gartner estimates a 20.2 per cent growth in regional spending on cloud services through to 2016, a figure that even exceeds the global average of 17.7 per cent. Interestingly, while it has been often implied that lower costs would be a major factor, Brocade’s survey has found that only ten per cent of the channel sees cost as a key driver. Instead, increased flexibility to scale up or down with requirements and adopt or drop services as required were cited as the main reasons for cloud adoption.
Looking forward, the survey also helps IT organisations in the Middle East region identify networking trends that will drive business growth. Of these, software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) emerged as areas of interest for future data centre network deployments. SDN provides a framework for automation that can significantly improve the management and utilisation of virtual devices in the network. The benefits of SDN are recognised by the Channel Survey 2013 Report respondents, with more than one quarter saying that SDN will be a “very significant” solution for the channel by 2020.
However, adoption will be closely linked with vendors’ ability to offer standards-based solutions, as noted by one third of the respondents. Kamel, however, feels that the industry is making progress towards establishing these standards. He says: “Today, organisations, such as the Open Networking Foundation and Open Daylight, have brought together vendors to create standards, such as OpenFlow, and other protocols. This will give businesses the confidence in the interoperability of SDN solutions, while also protecting them against costly lock-ins.”