Enterprise IT in 2014 – Under-the-Radar Challenges with WAN Bandwidth, BYOD, and XP Security

February 5, 2014
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By Deepak Kumar

Editor’s note: This guest post is by Deepak Kumar, Founder and CTO of Adaptiva. – bg

Over the last year, IT budgets saw modest growth as departments embraced mobile, cloud and virtualization in record numbers. New technologies like these are delivering dramatic efficiency gains in many areas; however, they are stressing infrastructure and creating unrealistic expectations. In addition, desktops and laptops remain revenue-critical workhorses for most companies, and cannot be neglected. Here are three key technology trends that CTOs should be thinking about over the next year.

Limited WAN Bandwidth

In a 2014 Next-Generation WAN Survey, 68 percent of respondents said demand for WAN bandwidth will increase over the next year. As the number of connected devices grows—from smartphones to tablets, and more—this strain on WAN bandwidth is inevitable. However, only 15 percent of those surveyed said they were planning to expand WAN capacity. The bandwidth gap, the difference between bandwidth companies need and what they actually have, is large and growing.

This shortage of bandwidth will stifle IT convergence for globally distributed organizations. Even where budget is available, some regions do not yet have the capacity to expand the WAN to meet the demand. These factors will prevent some global companies from successfully deploying bandwidth-hungry enterprise IT strategies worldwide, such as virtualization and data center consolidation. Careful testing and limited pilot deployments are perennial success strategies with WAN-trafficking applications. Bandwidth-optimizing technologies and applications can also be good investments.

BYOD Will Fail to Live up to the Hype

BYOD is on a huge upswing. Employees are using devices such as tablets and smartphones to access select corporate resources, such as email and calendaring. Despite the hype, BYOD will not replace laptops and desktop as the key corporate endpoint device any time soon. The form factor provided by smartphones and tablets is great for simple use cases, but is inadequate for consuming and creating complex content.

Securing these devices is nearly impossible because they are not corporate controlled. Employees own them, so they can’t be locked down entirely. Users can install apps, go anywhere on the web, and transfer data externally. This makes it difficult to enforce regulation and compliance in industries such as health care and finance where failure can cause lawsuits, fines, and other penalties. I love BYOD. It improves productivity and employee morale, but it will be used in addition to laptops and desktops. This adds to IT’s burden instead of reducing it. Companies should plan accordingly.

XP Will Cause Significant Security Issues

The end of support for Windows XP, slated for April 8, 2014, is a dangerous security issue. According to the latest statistics on worldwide operating system use, 29 percent are still using the expiring operating system. Despite the warnings from Microsoft of the dangers in continuing use past April, it is projected that the global XP installed base will hover around 20% when Microsoft pulls the plug. This would expose a large number of companies to serious security threats and software compatibility issues.

Microsoft announced on its TechNet blog that it will extend its anti-malware updates a full year, but there is much more to keeping a system secure than current anti-malware. The tech giant emphasized in the piece that “after April 8, 2014, Windows XP users will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.” Meaning, even though anti-malware is extended, attackers will have easier access when attempting to victimize organizations running the outdated OS. This year we will see a plethora of successful cyber-attacks on companies who left the front door open in the form of Windows XP.


About the Author: 

Dr. Deepak Kumar founded Adaptiva in 2004. He is responsible for Adaptiva’s strategic product direction, and leads the development organization. Deepak was the lead architect of Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, and prior to that was a program manager with the Windows NT Networking team. He has received five patents and has written more than 50 publications, including a book on Windows programming. While at Microsoft, he also authored the Thinkweek paper for Bill Gates that became Project Greenwich, now known as Microsoft Office Communications Server / Lync.