What are the technologies and trends that will affect your networks in 2008? We recently spoke with Network Instruments about the concerns you might have as a network administrator this year.

Retrospective Network Analysis (RNA)

The year 2007 marked the emergence of RNA solutions, TiVo-like devices that store and play back network traffic to immediately troubleshoot the source of a problem rather than requiring you to spend hours recreating the problem. RNA goes mainstream in 2008 as the clear and quick way to troubleshoot the source of intermittent network problems.

Steady Adoption of 10GbE and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)

The year 2007 saw steady adoption of 10GbE and MPLS technologies by enterprises, and the trend will continue in 2008. The MPLS market is driven predominantly by carriers pushing clients to MPLS from legacy technologies such as Frame Relay. MPLS advantages of quicker response times and more efficient bandwidth allocation, when coupled with decentralized applications such as VoIP, are also fueling adoption. The primary driver of 10GbE adoption isn’t surprising—it’s all about bandwidth as companies implement bandwidth-intense services such as VoIP and IPTV.

Collaborate and Listen

A phrase many organizations like to use is “unified communications.” This term describes the integration of all communication tools—from Web-based applications to IM and VoIP—to facilitate project collaboration. Coupled with the evolution of new social media and video applications and outlets, these applications can both improve and plague an organization. Although unified communications enhances business processes, it can overwhelm networks when application performance isn’t closely monitored.

Virtualization

From VMware’s public offering this summer to companies such as Oracle to Microsoft releasing virtualized products, virtualization moved from a fringe technology into the mainstream. As organizations harness the benefits of virtual consolidation, they’ll also tackle the new problems of monitoring and troubleshooting these far more abstract networks.

Track Everything

Whether for compliance enforcement, eDiscovery, or network troubleshooting, more organizations are implementing tools that record and store every packet traversing the network. With storage costs decreasing and the need to produce electronic evidence increasing, this trend of long-term storage will continue.

High-Level Reporting Integrates with In-Depth Packet Analysis

Although high-level reporting has evolved significantly, giving network professionals an understanding of overall network performance and health, organizations want to seamlessly drill down to perform root-cause analysis. High-level reporting offers quick problem detection, and in-depth packet analysis identifies the cause.

Blurring of Business and Personal Application Demands on IT

The blurring of personal and business applications began with the BlackBerry and iPod, and the trend will accelerate as employees use new hybrid devices such as the Apple iPhone. Although some of these devices can be used in business, they present new security risks and network-use implications that you’ll need to consider. Phones and other portable devices can consume significant bandwidth, creating problems for networks running near capacity.

Need for the Right Tools

Whether implementing a new technology or tackling a network problem, the right analysis tools, predeployment testing, and constant monitoring are the keys to ensuring smoothing network operations in the new year.