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Two technologies converging

Change will be everywhere during the 'Post-PC-Cloud Computing Era,' particularly in the structured cabling sector.

July 1, 2012  

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A major change in enterprise networks is occurring. This change in the enterprise network’s architecture will, in turn, drastically change the structured cabling systems needed to support the new network architecture. Two newer technologies, including wireless and cloud computing, are the cause. We refer to this new period we are entering as the “The Post-PC-Cloud Computing Era.”

I have been involved in the IT market for nearly 50 years, with the last 25 years focusing in on the structured cabling systems market. Over this period, I have witnessed many changes, but none such as this, which will change the enterprise network to the extent that all network providers must rethink how they will conduct their business in the future. I believe that these two new technologies will have more of an impact on the enterprise network than the emergence of the Internet or the introduction of PCs.

The Post-PC- Cloud Computing Era: The most surprising development with these newer technologies is the rapid acceptance at enterprises occurring much sooner than initially anticipated.

Wireless mobile devices have been around for a time now, but until recently did not support the Gigabit Ethernet speeds required in most enterprise networks. BYOD (bring your own device) is rapidly being deployed at many enterprises. Employees wanting to bring their own mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets to access the enterprise network, are being forced on IT departments.

IT departments are now implementing the security and management controls needed to allow these devices on the enterprise network.

Cloud computing services provide a compelling business case for rapid acceptance. These services provide usage-based rates that are much more economical than deploying and maintaining these same services by the IT departments. The emergence of cloud computing services by the technological giants, such as IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Amazon and Google, among others, lends credence to cloud computing services.

These technologies started from two totally different directions that are now converging on the enterprise network. Wireless mobile devices started with cell phones providing wireless voice services.

They have morphed into smartphones that are ideal for supporting Internet and e–mail access. Voice is now a secondary consideration for many new smartphones. Tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, are the optimum net book. Cloud computing started by providing backup storage for the enterprise’s data centers.

Now they provide not only storage backup, but also computing resources, application software support and network infrastructure support. In essence, it moves the entire core network, including the data center out into the cloud. All that remains in the enterprise network are wireless access points (WAPs), supporting the mobile devices connecting to a router or gateway to the cloud computing service provider.

Apple’s iPad: A Game Changer: I consider the iPad a game changer that will have a significant impact on PCs used in enterprise networks. With more than 20 million shipped and with more than 200,000 apps, it has essentially become the de facto device for data access. But it is other features that make the iPad a game changer. Two years ago, Apple opened up its operating systems for application development resulting in the large number of apps being developed for this device. Another factor was Apple’s iTunes online store providing a readily available vehicle for retail sales of the apps. Until recently, most of the Apple iPad apps have been directed at the consumer market.

Now there are many new business apps being developed including support of Microsoft’s

popular Office suite. In fact, Microsoft is planning to offer their next Windows operating system later this year to support both PCs and wireless devices.

Future Role of Business PCs

These two new technologies will not cause a total network upgrade immediately due to the hefty investment in the current network. Rather, it will be a phased approach in using both of these two technologies. Timelines on both of these two new technology deployments are provided in my new report, “The Post-PC-Cloud Computing Era Structured Cabling Systems Market Analysis & Forecasts”. Existing PCs will still be used, but wireless mobile devices will increasingly be considered in network upgrades or additions. We are moving from a location-based, PC environment to a person-based wireless environment. PCs will no longer be the primary network access devices, but rather smartphones and tablets will become the primary access devices. The emergence of a departmental PC replacing individual PCs in a department may become a popular future choice.

Structured Cabling Systems (SCS) Market Declines $1.7 over the Next Five Years

The impact of these two technologies is projected to reduce the SCS market by US$1.7 billion cumulative over the next five years. These two technologies will have differing effects on the different parts of the structured cabling system. One will impact the copper cabling segment negatively, while one will impact the fiber cabling segment positively. The net effect is a reduction in the size and growth of the SCS market starting this year and continuing to accelerate over the next five years.

Frank Murawski is the founder and president of FTM Consulting Inc.  For the past 20 years, his consulting practice has focused on the networking structured cabling systems (SCS) marketplace, providing market forecasts and new technology developments for both fiber and copper cabling systems. He can be reached at