We have a more mobile work force than ever before. People are notebook-enabled, iPad addicts and Blackberry-ready, and looking to use those devices to improve their experience when collaborating with clients and co-workers.
Collaboration – both in terms of devices, and the solutions sitting on those devices to enable voice, video and document sharing, is ramping an organisation’s demand for its network.
Unfortunately, according to Juniper Networks system engineering manager, Steve Woods, not every network is quite ready to handle what an organisation might like to do in terms of collaboration, and not every organisation is even aware of what it might like to do, necessarily.
“It’s becoming more demanding,” Woods said. “The challenge is that a lot of organisations have a video conferencing tool, for example, and then pay for a high cost circuit, and then they don’t use the tool 24/7. What we’re seeing is a requirement for the network to be able to dynamically adapt – detect that there’s a video call incoming, and bring up a 10MBs service for the duration of the call and then tear that back down,”
Given the demand changes that are becoming a default in our industry – in the past 12 months we’ve seen the rise of no less than four major phone OS platforms (iOS, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry and Android), and the integration of social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn into the environment, having a network that is able to dynamically react to changes in requirement would seem to make sense for the future.
In 2011 then, engagement with customers will focus on understanding which of the 50 or more applications that might be sitting on the network are most critical to an organisation – in itself nothing new for the industry, but the mobility element will throw an additional spanner in the works.
“From our point of view mobility is such a massive trend in the market,” Woods said. “The biggest challenge – as smart phones and laptops have storage internally, and you can connect securely and get performance, but what happens to that data if the device is lost?”
Storing to share
By nature, a collaboration-ready network does have to deal with increased storage demands.
“We’ve seen organisations moving to either virtualised server scenarios or cloud-based scenarios and pushing all their data back to a central location,” Netgear managing director, Australia, Ryan Parker, said.
“They’re also wanting to be able to have better control over the data that people are generating locally over their notebooks or PCs and get all that up to a central location.”
Netgear is looking to resolve these concerns by using NAS platforms to make it easy for a smaller-sized business to consolidate all their data in one spot securely for both backup and day-to-day document generation.
Importantly, for the SMBs that are typically ill-equipped to put together a proper infrastructure to handle a collaborative environment, the solutions are getting easier to manage over time – and the introduction of technologies such as cloud has allowed the reseller to take over that role, Parker said.
“We’re seeing a lot more package solutions coming out making it simpler, and I think Netgear is trying to lead the way with that, and from a reseller point of view generate recurrent revenue for them because we’re able to build a monthly billing model as well as proactively manage that as well.”
The upshot of that is the SMB customer and enterprise client alike will have the network ready to access fully-fledged collaboration solutions into the future.