The network is not as sexy as the world of mobile devices and social technologies. But it is critical for all the voice and data that passes over IP networks in unprecedented amounts.
It's a new challenge. And it is why network convergence technologies are considered to be a foundation for the next-generation enterprise data center.
Even as the need grows, IT is taking a cautious approach. Mike Vizard writes that it is economic and internal political pressures that are having an affect. But the slow down will have to ebb as the data deluge continues to pound networks.
Network convergence does sound a bit dry but if you look at the dynamics behind the term, you can get a better picture of what the implications can be now that people have such easy access to the Internet.
At its most basic level, network convergence means putting voice and data into a single network. In most data centers, circuit-switched voice networks and packet-switched data networks operate separately. Converged networks operate on single packet-switched network supporting both voice and data protocols.
The competition is intensifying as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and a number of other companies compete to provide the network technology and software for the convergence and data center technology.
Cisco has been leading the space but Hewlett-Packard has competed more intensely in the past year.That's most evident in its acquisition of 3Com which gives HP a platform to fill out its existing offerings.
At stake is an enterprise market that is facing intense pressure on its networks. People are co-editing documents from different parts of the world. Voice, video and data is used for training. Mobile workers need access to mission critical applications.
A lot of the political issues revolve around work roles more than anything else. Virtualization is being used to consolidate servers. Roles are changing with the new management requirements.
And that may be the biggest challenge for vendors like HP. Their approach seems right. With the 3Com acquisition, the company can offer an end-to-end service to manage data centers as we enter the age of the zettabyte.
It's the enterprise that needs training and a new way of operating. IT can no longer survive by offering an endless number of point solutions. The demands on the data center are too intensive to support such a fractured environment.
Disclaimer: Hewlett-Packard is a sponsor of ReadWriteWeb.