META Group Inc., an information technology (IT) research and consulting firm, today announced the release of its Campus Convergence 2001: Trends and Issues study.
The survey of 435 US companies coupled with META Group analysis reveals a vast disparity among enterprises in terms of migrating to a completely switched Internet Protocol (IP) network. While the migration to a converged platform requires a substantial investment, made more difficult in light of the current economic environment, respondents noted that the key drivers for convergence were cutting costs, enabling applications, and generating additional revenue.
The implementation time frames for convergence will be based on the size of the enterprise and the extent of the planned convergence. Trends indicate that enterprises expect production-scale deployment in main branches and campuses within one to two years. However, the study projects that the economic slowdown will cause delays in implementation by an additional one to two years, particularly for those firms lacking a clear business case for IP convergence projects.
The study found that 95% of the respondents define convergence as the consolidation of voice and data traffic over IP. With an increased tendency for employees to be cross-trained in both voice and data disciplines, it is likely that other applications such as video, wireless, and storage will be included in this definition. Convergence of all wireless technologies was included by 54% of respondents, while 55% considered video as part of the definition. Because of the technological immaturity of storage over IP, only 27% of respondents included it in their definition. When factoring in market maturity into adoption time frames, META Group anticipates that eventually IP will become the standard method of transport for all applications. Convergence technologies have received much attention during the last year, yet there is still a significant difference in the degree to which enterprises have migrated toward a completely switched IP network. Forty-five percent of respondents use a completely switched IP network, while 55% incorporate varying degrees of shared technology within their LAN (local-area network). Because of this variance, primary users will continue to upgrade their networks during the next 24 months, with 43% of respondents indicating they will invest in additional LAN switching hardware.
The majority of respondents indicated they would rely on "converged systems" vendors. Successful vendors would need expertise in both voice and data solutions. Users must identify vendors that focus on their business requirements. Therefore, larger enterprises would be better served by investing in vendors that offer solutions designed for larger environments. The importance of cost versus reliability becomes less relevant as the size of the organization increases.
The report was developed to survey the attitudes and expectations regarding the convergence of voice and data. The study targeted small, medium, and large enterprises in the US; however, 56% described their operations as being global in scope. Respondents came from a broad range of vertical industries and were responsible for voice and/or data investments.
Campus Convergence 2001: Trends and Issues is part of META Group's extensive portfolio of research reports and interactive resources, including more than 50 reports and online tools, ranging from executive resources and market research to e-business technology evaluations and best practices. The report can be purchased for $2,500