INTEROP - Virtualization is major network management challenge

Interop survey shows network managers expect to be most challenged managing virtualization, unified communications and MPLS

As more companies deploy virtualization technologies, more network managers expect the technology to introduce management challenges to their environments, according to an Interop show poll.

Virtualization is a hot topic at the Interop conference this year, and more than 50 per cent of 117 attendees surveyed reported that their organizations have deployed some virtualization technologies. More than 41 per cent do not currently run virtualization, but close to 80per cent said they would have virtualization in-house within the next 12 months. And the number of show attendees polled planning to use virtualization technology is set to increase to 82 per cent in two years.

But nearly 40 per cent of network managers polled also listed virtualization as the emerging technology that represents the "greatest monitoring challenges," according to NetQoS and Network Instruments, which jointly conducted the survey Tuesday following the opening of Interop's exhibition area. Network performance management vendor NetQoS and Network Instruments, which provides network and application analysis, monitoring and reporting products, also discovered that 24 per cent of those polled consider unified communications a potential monitoring challenge and 14 per cent identified MPLS as a technology that might introduce new monitoring issues.

"Many of the people we're speaking with today are talking about network-wide rollouts of new applications like VoIP and unified communications," said Charles Thompson, manager of systems engineering for Network Instruments, in a statement. "Many IT staffs find it challenging to assess how these applications will impact the performance of other business-critical applications."

The survey also checked with attendees to get a sense of the types of networks they monitor and the specific technologies they have implemented or plan to implement in the coming months. Nearly 70 per cent of attendees said they are interested in monitoring LANs, nearly 60 per cent said WAN management tops their mind and close to 56 per cent indicated they are tasked with monitoring wireless networks. About 50 per cent monitor gigabit networks and more than 20 per cent work with 10 Gigabit networks.

In terms of VoIP, nearly 70 per cent of show attendees polled have implemented the technology and another 10 per cent said they expect to implement VoIP in the next year or more. Forty-six per cent surveyed at Interop are using Cisco for their VoIP implementations, while 18 per cent work with Avaya products. Close to 10 per cent use Microsoft VoIP technology and 8 per cent use Nortel.

WAN optimization technologies are also deployed in many IT shops. More than 40 per cent have or plan to implement WAN optimization technology within 12 months. Yet 44 per cent indicated in the poll that they had no plans to roll out the technology.

"The job of the network professional is becoming more complex, with increasing responsibility for maintaining optimum application performance while dealing with new technologies such as WAN optimization and virtualization," said Patrick Ancipink, NetQoS director of product marketing, in a statement. "The organizations that adapt best to the emerging trends and challenges outlined in the survey are those that can understand the before and after impact of change on network and application performance and work well across IT silos for planning and troubleshooting purposes."