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IP networks will feel traffic pain in 2009

Mobile networks will be tested during the inauguration, but every network will feel the strain in 2009. Providers need to better manage their bandwidth, resolving potential problems quickly.

Many are concerned about cell phone networks getting overwhelmed on Tuesday during the U.S. presidential inauguration.

Cell phone networks are built to be oversubscribed, using statistical analysis to bet against a certain of users flooding a network all at the same time. While it's never been a fool-proof strategy, it's worked reasonably well until recently when smartphones and bandwidth-intensive applications have moved to mobile devices.

But cell networks aren't the only networks starting to get overwhelmed. Cisco Systems says that in 2012, Internet video traffic alone will be 400 times the traffic carried by the U.S. Internet backbone in 2000. Video-on-demand, IPTV, peer-to-peer video, and Internet video are forecast to account for nearly 90 percent of all consumer IP traffic in 2012.

"Cisco VNI projections indicate that IP traffic will increase at a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46 percent from 2007 to 2012, nearly doubling every two years. This will result in an annual bandwidth demand on the world's IP networks of approximately 522 exabytes2, or more than half a zettabyte."

With this and the continued growth of converged networks within enterprise environments, the thought of the simple data network is no more. Networks have become highly complex and distributed, tasking companies with the need to scale to monitor and analyze all aspects of the voice, video and IPTV.

The network that has become overwhelmed in 2008 will become incredibly burdened in 2009 and beyond if companies do not manage their bandwidth.

This seemed a little out there to me, so I asked Tim McCreery, CEO of network and application analysis developer WildPackets, for a bit more on what happens next. (Not surprisingly, Tim's suggestions just so happen to support the thesis behind his company.)

First off, we'll see the growth of 10Gb networks, already rapidly becoming the mainstay for backbones within enterprise and service provider networks. 100Gb will be adopted at a faster pace because anything less won't be able to handle the traffic load.

We'll also see the trend of companies moving their network analysis tools to a Web-based approach, proving extreme flexibility in data access and data reporting, coupled with an emphasis on turn-key hardware-software monitoring solutions for their converged voice, video, Internet Protocol television, and data networks.

Most importantly, with this continued growth and the popularity of large, over-taxed networks, it will become ever more important for companies to know and understand exactly how well their networks are performing and resolve potential problems quickly--before they become networkwide issues.