Latency issues and increasing data volumes mean attempts to shoehorn demanding new communications technologies onto existing networks will lead network engineers to trouble, a Gartner analyst warned yesterday.
Speaking at Gartner's Data Centre Summit, Geoff Johnson, research vice president with Gartner, said 'communications-enabled business processes' will position voice as a common feature of networked applications - and networks, already growing by the likes of wireless LANs and ever-larger storage area networks, need to be ready for them.
Data-focused network engineers "need to know there's a new type of traffic coming through", Johnson says. "The problem with voice and video is their low latency needs, and through all that data centre tuning they need to know they've got a new problem to address. More bandwidth cannot solve everything."
Increasingly robust network switches, Johnson says, will eventually be integrated with current stand-alone wide area network (WAN) optimization technologies to produce a 'universal switch' capable of handling both generalized and specialized traffic across the LAN and WAN.
Successfully integrating these technologies will require structural changes that unify voice and data expertise within a company, Johnson adds. This change is necessary to embrace a broader worldview that looks past VoIP to consider messaging holistically - yet even as 55 percent of companies have deployed or evaluated VoIP, Johnson said only half of those companies have made such changes.
With the technology landscape changing quickly, Johnson recommends that companies eschew technologies that won't be needed within 12 months, filling short-term network requirements until next-generation equipment is available. "The sleeper here is the applications group, which is going to need a network that's optimized for a particular application like multimedia," he said. "You have to have a five-year plan."