As the network increasingly becomes a platform for delivering a plethora of services, we have seen a big jump in Internet traffic. Additionally, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, increased traction in cloud services and virtualization, as well as the growing popularity of IP voice and video have resulted in the amount of data traffic increasing manifold. As the role of network transforms, it is becoming central to establish connections between people, devices, and information. Here are the top trends that we foresee in networking in 2012:
1. Device and content agnosticism: The network will unify wireless and wired access to support the proliferation of devices ("bring your own device", or BYOD) and ubiquitous mobility. Virtualization and cloud services will deliver content whenever they provide a lower cost of ownership.
2. Video will be the cornerstone of collaboration: Collaboration with customers, staff, suppliers and other partners will grow, using video, data, and voice communications on a variety of devices. There will be increased emphasis on the ability to quickly and easily collaborate no matter where people are will transform business processes. Video will be the cornerstone of collaboration, for a range of applications from social networking to smart connected communities.
3. Network security: As the amount of data increases, network security will gain prominence. We will see convergence of elements such as firewalls, content security, and policy and identity management. The result: seamless connections and context-aware security that recognizes who you are, what you're supposed to have access to, what device you're on, and where you are globally. Additionally, IP based physical safety and security will also continue to gain prominence.
4. Connected communities: As the global population heads towards 7 billion, governments and urban planners are looking for smarter ways to use available resources to deliver more with less. Information technology is an important enabler of a more sustainable approach to designing, building, and operating cities. Smart and connected communities are no longer just a vision but will increasingly become a reality.
5. Network technology architecture: It will connect any device across any combination of networks, increase cost efficiency by integrating network security and management, and improve business processes, including energy management. Architecture virtualization scales up the efficiency power of the IT infrastructure significantly and enhances the performance of the increasingly complex and consolidated systems.
6. Data Center consolidation: To ensure optimal utilization of existing resources and assets, data center consolidation will become important. Virtualization will play a big role in the near future as IT organizations morph into more and more of a services management framework.
The author is President and Country Manager, Cisco India & SAARC