My Predictions for 2012
Lets be clear that, at a fundamental level, everything in the Networking Industry will be the same as last year. Ethernet frames will still look like Ethernet frames, even when FibreChannel is inside them, and IP Packets (thirty year old technology) will still have IPv4 headers, except very occasionally they will IPv6 headers (fifteen year old technology) but they will still be packets. And they will still get routed, load balanced and tunnelled using the same technologies from the last decade eg. MPLS, GRE, DWDM, etc etc.
Switches will switch, Routers will still route, Firewalls will still be hard to use and IT security will continue to fail everybody. The Internet will be more normal than it was this year.
BUT, like every year, there are things that won’t take off. No matter how hard vendors flog that dead horse, or how much it seems obvious to someone ( who probably has little to no practical experience as a network engineer …. like a journalist ) there are products that will not happen.
2012 IS STILL NOT the year of any of the following:
- Videoconferencing ( for the eleventh year in a row)
- Corporate IP Telephony
2012 won’t be the year of the Cloud. The biggest pain point will be legal ownership and jurisdiction problems because, who owns your data ? Today, the US Government is taking rights to all data it can reach, or the cyber criminals are just taking it. These issues of ownership, security, reliability, portability etc etc are now blocking corporate adoption and that’s where the big money for clouds are.
The US Presidential campaign has politicians making excessive or silly statement about the Internet, apparently to gain funding and support from large corporate interests. This is causing serious concerns as to who owns your data – US courts seem readily willing to sequester data on inconsistent terms which leads to corporate uncertainty for cloud data hosting. And issues such as US domiciled companies becoming legally bound to supply data regardless of physical jurisdiction is likely to fragment and slow cloud adoption.
However. It’s the only thing that’s a bit different from last year so it will give us something to talk about. And companies who do cloud things continue to buy all the people who are outspoken and make lots of noise on social media, therefore lots of smoke about cloud and very little fire. The relatively small amounts of infrastructure cash spent on Clouds looks new because it’s different cash budget but not because it is new cash. All the new cash is being spent at Apple on iPhones and iPad’s.
Cloud is a long-term trend that will happen slowly and suffer a lot of setbacks due to immaturity and practical issues. The technology issues are just fine — well, once they can stabilise into a trusted resource or a recognisable service anyway. In the mean time, cloud companies need to do a lot of marketing and they will make a lot of noise because they have motivation to spend money on making that noise.
Sing along, won’t you ?
IPv6 will happen in China, Pacific Rim and East Asia. It won’t happen anywhere else because there are enough IPv4 addresses around that companies will use the current downturn/recession as an excuse to do nothing.
At the same time, engineers will continue to find holes in vendors software and this wil undermine confidence that IPv6 is “ready”.
Note also that the use of IPv6 MPLS tunnels over IPv4 networks will also relieve the pressure to upgrade. Some companies will finally put their MPLS tunnelling networks to good use for the first time.
Not Videoconferencing ( for the eleventh year in a row)
It’s an absolute certainty that many pundits, and Cisco, will proclaim that 2012 is the year of videoconferencing once again. I know this because this has been claimed every year since 2001 when the first videoconferencing units arrived. A decade later and still no one really cares. Oh sure, there are plenty of specialist use cases where a few units will be used for this or that but face to face video is still years away from adoption.
Perhaps the clearest indicator of the market not caring is FaceTime on the iPhone – if users, as a whole, large group, wanted to use videoconferencing then FaceTime would be the canary in that coal mine. The lack of interest in FaceTime, or any other variants Skype/Android etc, is clear evidence that no one really cares. And calling Grandma so they can see the Grandkids doesn’t count.
And also, that bandwidth caps on mobile phones and lack of bandwidth generally is the greatest limitation that video must overcome. That’s five to ten years away.
Not Corporate IP Telephony
The year of the IP telephony was back in 2005 or 2006. Today it’s all about mobile phones and the idea of a corporate PBX is quaint and old-fashioned. Now that most countries have phone plans that mean voice calls are effectively free (notably, not the United States), companies are not bothering with desk phones for many job roles. They are still popular with desk bound tasks such as accounting, call centres, and operational roles but for most roles that move it’s all about mobile phones. The breakdown of the modern workplace for home working, mobile working etc means that IP telephony is just a tick box in lowering costs and no longer a competitive advantage.
Note: A call centre is a niche use case for telephones. Don’t whine that call centres are serious money blah blah because they are not. Any company that can avoid spending money on call centres in any form will do that because it is an unprofitable and resource intensive business that unpredictable and low barrier to competition – Google, Amazon, Facebook don’t have any for good reasons……
Carriers are likely to continue to be hated all over the world as they continue to extort money from their captive customers. While carriers spend their time fooling around with value added services such as mobile TV, streaming video, app stores, music stores and other “customer led market inflections” they aren’t focussing on delivering more bandwidth which is what customers really want.
Why ? Because it’s much more fun to pretend that shiny toys might turn into a revenue stream and pretend to be one of the cool kids. Somehow, everyone forgets that carriers only make money from bandwidth. That’s the ONLY thing that carriers should be focussing on. Everything else is a waste of management time and shareholders cash.
That won’t change this year because bandwidth is not sexy. But really, carriers should be making more bandwidth to make more money. And doing nothing else.
The EtherealMind View
So these are the things that I think will NOT be big this year. I’ll be back in a few days for what I think will be big in 2012.