Cisco recently released a new study on trends in networking, with a focus on where we'll be by 2018. The results were a bit surprising, if only by highlight just how fast technology is now moving today... and how quickly it's being adopted.
Just to hit a few highlights from their report:
- By 2018, more online traffic will move over WiFi than over wired networks.
- Continued usage of traditional wired networks will likely fall to <40%.
- HD Video will overtake SD Video in usage.
- In fact, nearly 80% of IP traffic will be video.
- The PC will cease to be the most common content consumption device.
- The Internet will grow 3-4x, and move more than 1.5 zettabytes of data worldwide.
So, basically, Cisco is predicting another near-total revolution in computing being complete by the end of the decade - and they have a lot of data backing up these trends. This should be of concern to anyone tasked with managing their business's IT budget for the next few years.
Assuming Cisco is right on their predictions - and they're usually real close - what does this mean for wireless vs. wired? There are a lot of implications.
1 - Do you need those desktops?
No, seriously. By and large, unless your workforce legitimately needs eight-core processors, desktops (and even laptops) are going to become niche devices for activities like graphics production and gaming. Current PCs are already far more powerful than 90+% of users need.
It may not be quite time to invest in a new batch of tablets, but we'd suggest holding off on more PCs unless you truly have a need for them.
2 - We need MORE BANDWIDTH!
The unavoidable conclusion from the above trends is that you're going to need more bandwidth, and quite a lot of it. HD Video takes 4x as much bandwidth as SD, plus we'll almost certainly see a rise in video-over-IP as teleconferencing tech continues to advance.
If you're already strained for speed, we suggest looking into 802.11ac networks, which are currently top-of-the-line. If upgrades aren't needed yet, wait a year for 802.11ad, which will see another huge speed increase over 802.11ac.
3 - You'll want Wi-Fi soon.
We've been saying it for awhile now, but honestly: Wired networks are simply on their way out. The trends are pretty undeniable at this point. The world is going to wireless, and increasingly, wired networks will be mostly used for high-security applications. (Since hard-wired LANs will always be a bit more secure.)
When your next round of upgrades come, don't invest in more wires. You'll only be ripping them back out in a few years.
Beyond 2020: Come The Meshnet?
And since we're prognosticating here, let's look a little further ahead. What's next, as mobile devices take over and PCs slide into being niche productivity / gaming devices?
Most likely, The Meshnet: the decentralized successor to the Internet. The Meshnet would use technologies similar to modern virtual networking OS's... except applied to the entire Internet. Everything would be stored and routed in virtualized space, shared dynamically across all users' devices, with little or nothing reliant on physical hardware that can be unplugged.
And should any of the current "worldwide WiFi satellites for everyone!" plans come to fruition in the next few years, they'll only hasten the Meshnet since that's exactly the sort of tech which will enable it.
Smart Tech Investments Look Far Ahead
Maybe there aren't any upgrades in your immediate future, and this is just an amusing discussion of future possibilities. It's still vital to keep a weather eye on the horizon, as they used to say. A good technology investment should be able to serve you for at least 4-5 years, but you can't make those sorts of decisions without reliable forecasts.
Or, for a free consultation on your options, just contact Hummingbird Networks today!