Security, bandwidth occupy network managers

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on networking trends is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as network managers.

Security issues are keeping many government network administrators up at night.

In a GCN telephone survey, 39 percent of IT and systems managers said keeping their networks secure is their biggest challenge. Another 20 percent said meeting user needs is a major hurdle in managing networks.

Meeting bandwidth needs was the toughest test for 14 percent of network managers in the survey.

Indeed, 70 percent of managers we interviewed said they expect to need more bandwidth in the next 24 months.

For instance, a Food and Drug Administration IT resources director in Atlanta told us that database development is propelling the need for more bandwidth at his agency.

'There's more traffic on the Web,' added a Forest Service IT group leader in Boise, Idaho. For many, a combination of new demands is putting a strain on network capacity.

To wit, an Air Force computer specialist in Ohio cited video and Web applications, database development and new software applications as bandwidth drivers.

Videoconferencing, Web applications and voice over IP are pushing bandwidth limits for a Defense Department contractor in Springfield, Va.

Won't go away

Other managers named maintaining network uptime (7 percent), upgrading software (6 percent) and upgrading hardware (5 percent) as their most vexing problems.

Elsewhere, an Army IT manager in Los Angeles said servicing remote users is a constant hurdle.
A Little Rock, Ark., IT department supervisor said 'getting approval for purchasing more hardware and software' for the network is his main hassle.

More than half the managers we surveyed, 52 percent, have at least 1,000 users on their networks. More than a third, 36 percent, have fewer than 500 users.

As for trends in LAN technologies, most managers said their networks use either Ethernet (41 percent) or Fast Ethernet (35 percent). Nearly a third, 32 percent, said they planned to upgrade to Gigabit Ethernet.

More than a third of managers in the survey, 36 percent, said their networks have wireless segments. Of those, 39 percent said they use the 802.11b standard and 28 percent use the 802.11a standard.

Only 16 percent of survey participants said LAN administration is outsourced at their organizations.


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