It’s impossible to avoid wireless when talking network infrastructure, as Heather Wright discovers.
The figures Gartner says market revenue for enterprise network equipment in 2013 totalled US$36.3 billion – equivalent to a 6.2% increase from 2012.
Ethernet switch revenue rose by 5.6% from 2012 to 2013, whereas application acceleration revenue declined by 5.2%. WLAN was, unsurprisingly, the market that grew the most.
Looking ahead, Gartner predicts global spending on enterprise network infrastructure will grow 3.8% in 2014, 2.7% in 2015 and 2.3% in 2016.
Market revenue for firewall/VPN and wireless LAN solutions will grow the strongest through to 2018, while ethernet switches will decline from 84% of LAN spending in 2013 to 71% by 2018 – still a dominant chunk.
The industry analysts put Cisco, HP, Juniper Networks, CheckPoint Software Technologies and Huawei as the top five vendors worldwide in 2012-2013 for enterprise network equipment, with Huawei the biggest climber, seeing a revenue jump of 24.6%.
That revenue increase leaves them with a 2.5% revenue share, fast approaching CheckPoint at 3.1%. However, it's Cisco that continues to hold dominant sway, claiming a 51.6% revenue share in 2013 – a country mile ahead of nearest rival HP, on 8.5%.
Juniper, at number three, manages 3.9%. Munch says today's networking vendor landscape is 'unlike any we have seen before'.
He attributes that to four factors: dramatic changes in user requirements, migration of enterprise infrastructure from in-house to external cloud models, the aftermath of network vendor consolidation and the goal of large IT play.
Munch says the convergence of infrastructure and applications, software, the cloud and all aspects of data centre infrastructure, has transformed the market from small specialty offers into a key battleground for large players.
“We are witnessing battles among the IT giants — for example, among Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and HP over infrastructure, and among Microsoft, Cisco Systems, IBM and others in communications applications and collaboration.
“As other major technology trends emerge, we anticipate other large vendors to join the battle.
"For example, SDN will change the dynamics in the data centre with vendors such as VMware and NEC entering, in addition to a plethora of new vendors eyeing an opportunity for disruption.
"However, the competitive impact of SDN has also emerged in other areas of the network, like the access network where SDN is making policy management more agile.”
Munch says network infrastructure must rapidly adapt to be able to support future highly virtualised, intelligent, applicationaware enterprise communications systems.
Older generations of network architecture, outdated designs and legacy technologies are barriers to deploying new infrastructure and application delivery method – in particular virtualisation and cloud computing, unified communications, video and mobile.
“This places a massive operational burden on the network administrator who is tasked with adopting new technologies such as virtualisation, wireless and convergence, but also has to struggle to support older systems.
“The trend toward ever-greater operational consolidation further compounds this problem because it is difficult to operationally integrate new systems with old systems.”