In Pictures: Network World's 2014 State of the Network survey

This exclusive research from IDG US publication, Network World, shows that Cloud and mobility are gaining in importance - and while the insights into the State of Networking are based on US sampling the picture paints a broad picture of where networking is heading ... and that is worth considering globally.

  • Aligning IT with the business has been a top priority of IT organizations for the past few years, but that is changing, according to the latest State of the Network Survey. IT has apparently made enough headway on the alignment issue that other priorities are coming to the fore. The No. 1 business objective of the 282 IT respondents is decreasing operational costs, while the top technology objective is lowering IT operational costs through server consolidation and overall IT simplification. Continue for more survey results.

  • When asked about the benefits of SDN, network flexibility is by far the most anticipated benefit, followed by simplified network operation and management. Reducing CAPEX and OPEX are far down on the list, which means IT might have a hard time convincing the CEO and CFO to take the plunge into the world of SDN if there’s no clear financial benefit.

  • So, where are people deploying SDN? According to our survey, the most popular place for SDN pilot projects is the data center (14%), followed by enterprise/WAN (10%). And a few brave souls (6%) are tackling both. But a full 50% of respondents are still sitting on the sidelines.

  • The data center is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of SDN technology, according to respondents, followed by enterprise/WAN. Only 10% of respondents plan to take on SDN deployments in both the data center and throughout the enterprise/WAN. And a full 33% of respondents said that SDN is not on their radar at all.

  • When it comes to thought leadership in the emerging field of SDN, a full 52% of respondents said they weren’t sure, which means there’s plenty of opportunity for an established vendor or an upstart newcomer to grab the attention of enterprise IT buyers. In the meantime, the usual suspects are at the top of the list, with Cisco at 22%, Juniper at 12%, HP at 11% and Nicira/VMware with a combined 14%.

  • When it comes to security related challenges, clearly IT execs are facing a number of new problems, with advanced persistent threats high on the list, following by mobile/BYOD, and cloud security. But surprisingly the No. 1 challenge was end users. Respondents said getting awareness and cooperation from end users was their biggest headache.

  • Productivity-related challenges fell into the very traditional categories, with money being far and away the top impediment to increased IT productivity, according to respondents. Traditional concerns like security, privacy and finding the right talent were at the top of the list. At the bottom on the list are two seemingly hot technologies – video and social media. But it seems that enterprise IT has bigger fish to fry.

  • Protecting the network/data center against data breaches and data leaks is Job One, according to respondents. Traditional IT metrics like uptime and optimizing end-to-end performance were high on the list. Interestingly, respondents put cloud-related projects lower down on their priority lists.

  • Big data analytics gets a lot of buzz these days, but not a lot of actual deployments, according to respondents. Only 10% have big data analytics in production, with another 12% piloting. Beyond that, there’s a lot of researching, and a full 50% of respondents say it’s not even on their radar.

  • Bad news for Satya Nadella: Nearly half of respondents say a migration to Windows 8 isn’t even on their radar. Only 7% of enterprise IT respondents have migrated to Microsoft’s latest OS, while only 10% are in the pilot stage.

  • Cloud services are certainly gaining in popularity, but among our respondents, enthusiasm for Infrastructure-as-a-Service is pretty tepid. Only 15% of respondents are using IaaS, with another 7% piloting and 10% researching. However, 45% of respondents don’t have IaaS on their radar.

  • IT execs in our survey are making good progress when it comes to implementing a BYOD policy. Already, 18% have rolled out a BYOD policy, with another 18% in the pilot stage. Only 30% of respondents are ignoring the need for a formal BYOD policy.

  • Our respondents were gung-ho when it comes to server consolidation: a full 44% have already implemented this cost saving measure, while 9% were in the pilot stage, 14% were researching and another 13% had server consolidation on their radar.

  • The move toward flattening the data center – moving from a traditional three-tier, spanning-tree architecture to something more streamlined and efficient – appears to be going strong. Eighteen percent of respondents have already achieved some level of data center network flattening, while 17% are in the research phase and 9% are actively piloting.

  • Energy efficiency in the data center has become a high priority for IT execs striving to keep costs in line. A full 20% of respondents say they have achieved energy efficiency, while another 20% are actively researching the topic. About 9% of respondents are piloting some form of data center energy efficiency initiates, while 13% have the issue on their radar.

  • WAN optimization is a proven money saver for enterprise IT. And adoption of this technology appears to be on the rise, with 16% of respondents having achieved some level of WAN optimization, another 18% in the pilot phase and 17% researching the technology.

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