IT has been through several major transitions since the birth of computing. Corporate IT has gone from mainframe computing to client server computing to Internet computing, and now the industry is in the midst of another major computing transition — the shift to networked computing. In the era of networked computing, corporate workers are untethered from traditional IT models. Users finally have the ability to access any application, from any device over any network, allowing users to work or play at any time, from anywhere. There was no tipping point for the rise of the networked computing era; instead it will continue to be driven by the following IT trends:
Virtualization: Virtualization technology has been around for about a decade, but has primarily been used as a tactical technology to consolidate servers. Virtualization technology has evolved past simple server consolidation to touch more IT resources including network appliances, security applications and other resources. Virtualization can be used to create a very fluid IT model where resources can be allocated to any application, as the business requires.
Cloud computing: This is the ultimate manifestation of virtualization. As more IT resources are virtualized, it will be more common to see resources pushed to the cloud.
Wireless access: Wireless access (4G and Wi-Fi) has evolved rapidly over the past 24 months. With the ratification of the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard and the commercial availability of 4G services, it’s now possible to accomplish almost any task without having to rely on a wired connection. This has given rise to a fast-growing mobile worker population, as the difference in user experience between wired and wireless access speeds is now negligible for most corporate applications.
Consumerization of IT: The use of consumer technologies is now commonplace. ZK Research indicates that 55 percent of CIOs support the use of consumer devices in the workplace. This is a marked attitude change from just a few years ago when most IT executives resisted the idea.
These trends converge to create an IT "perfect storm" that makes it possible for workers to accomplish any task from any location over any network (see Exhibit 1, below). Workers are also free to integrate their personal lives with their professional personas to create a truly blended work/life environment.
This IT shift will forever change the way people live, work and learn. However, as this trend continues to accelerate, IT managers need better visibility into the network to effectively understand network traffic, speed up troubleshooting and have a good understanding of the end-user experience.