Traffic jams remain unsolved

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Some 78 percent of Australian companies have suffered significant degradation in network or application performance due to increased WAN or Internet traffic in the last 12 months, according to a new survey.

Peter Owen, Australia and New Zealand territory manager at US-based application traffic manager Packeteer, said the company--with system integrator Dimension Data--surveyed 45 enterprise IT companies in Australia.

This was carried out as an emailed adjunct to their global online survey of 190 enterprise IT organisations, primarily from the US, in June and July.

'We took a subset of the questions in the global survey and went to the market out here, emailing it to key Australian customers. The subset actually reflects the global results,' Owen said.

Some 78 percent of the 42 Australian companies which responded said 'yes' when asked if they had lost network or application capability in the last year due to an unanticipated traffic increase.

Of those surveyed, 61.4 percent of the companies in the global group of 190 surveyed also reported significant degradation of application or network performance in the last 12 months.

Eleven percent of the 42 Australian IT and network managers who responded answered 'no' when asked if they had lost network capacity, while another 11 percent said they were 'not sure'.

The global group seemed more savvy. Some 31.2 percent of those 190 companies were certain they had not suffered such application or network performance problems in the last year.

However, 35.9 percent of the 190 companies in the global survey said 'yes' when asked if their company had delayed launching new applications due to concern over bandwidth congestion.

Most delays--38.4 percent--were of ERP applications such as accounting, order entry and inventory, the respondents said.

Jeff Barker, worldwide director of product marketing at Packeteer, said the online global questionnaire initially targeted several 1,000 industry players but only 190 responded.

Asked whether the results might not therefore be skewed towards the views of those sufficiently motivated to respond to such as survey, he said that the results tallied with Packeteer's experience of their customers both in Australia and in the US.

'We sat down and evaluated that and talked to our customers and it was pretty consistent [with what they were experiencing],' Barker said.

Barker also said about 80 percent of companies in the survey had been alerted to the problem by endusers.

'And 75 percent [of companies] actually don't know what they're running [on their networks]. A lot have a good sense of their business applications but they don't know all the spyware applications, how much Web browsing is actually being done,' Barker said.

However, most companies' response to the problem was to add bandwidth.

'Adding bandwidth when you don't know what's on your network, and what's consuming it, just doesn't seem to be an intelligent approach,' Barker said.

He likened the response to that of city councils building more roads to solve traffic congestion. Around the world, such moves only seemed to encourage more people to take to the roads--causing still more traffic congestion, he said.

Such problems were well known but companies--like councils--still preferred to take what seemed like the easy way out. 'It was disappointing given the size of the [network application performance] problem that we haven't made a lot of progress in this over the last few years,' Barker said.

Owen said Packeteer believed traffic management systems could help business users understand what's running on their networks and thus find longer-term answers to the problem.

He said Packeteer's latest 'compression-and-control' version of PacketShaper, PacketShaper Xpress, was selling well, particularly in Australia. The company was 100 percent channel-focused, Owen added.

'There's compression technology out there but this is unique because it's combined on a single platform with efficiency-performance monitoring or bandwidth management,' Owen said.

Fleur Doidge travelled to Forum 12 as a guest of Dimension Data.



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