Business networks buckle as workforces gobble more data and adopt new working patterns

The Barracuda Networks study aimed to identify the issues affecting the performance of critical business applications

Research out today reveals that there is an increasing gap between the capabilities of network infrastructures and what network administrators need to do their jobs effectively.

The findings, highlighted in a survey by analyst house Freeform Dynamics on behalf of storage vendor Barracuda Networks, show that approximately 52 percent of businesses are struggling with managing application performance, availability and security because of a "disjointed, complex and hard-to-manage" environment.

The survey, taken by IT professionals at 404 small, mid and large-sized enterprises, also indicated that many business networks are showing signs of stress when trying to keep up with the demands of the modern workplace, with 21 percent pointing to remote working as a significant contributor to network traffic.

Many businesses expect the situation to amplify in the future, with 76 percent saying they expect the load from employees connecting remotely to be higher or much higher within three years.

Meanwhile, the vast majority (84 percent) said the current or future changes in working patterns will make it more difficult to manage application access and security, which is a cause for concern because 65 percent of those surveyed said that poor or unpredictable application performance is having a negative impact on the business.

Some 81 percent of respondents recognised the need to move away from the "network perimeter" mind-set for security and embrace an "application perimeter" approach.

Tony Lock, programme director at Freeform Dynamics, believes the network perimeter today does not have a clear outline due to the fact that remote workers, mobile devices, partners, customers and suppliers are all trying to access company resources that have traditionally resided behind a corporate network firewall.

"If you have too many holes in a wall, it gets really hard to keep the bad guys out and the important/critical data in," he said.

Barracuda Networks says that businesses can overcome application performance and security challenges by deploying an application delivery controller (ADC) device that manages client connections, complex web and enterprise applications, among other things. It can be deployed in a variety of form factors including hardware, virtual appliance, or software, and is responsible for managing or directing the flow of data between two entities.

The survey found that only 27 percent of the businesses sampled had any form of ADC solution in place.

"Everything is increasing - the traffic, the data, the access points, and the number of users and devices," said Wieland Alge, vice president and GM EMEA at Barracuda. "The survey results underpin how important it is for companies to consider all of these points in order to scale their network infrastructure."

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