DATE:  22 JULY 2009
The evolution and revolution of South African networking
By Robert Sussman, joint CEO, Integr8 Group

PRLog (Press Release) – Jul 22, 2009 – Interest and investment in networking solutions and infrastructure continues to soar. If one considers the past business objective of acquiring efficiency from a desktop PC and comparing it to a plethora of ICT managed services and access to social interaction forums available at the ‘cloud’ (virtually, immediately and automatically), it is clear that the network is firmly positioned at the heart of our personal and professional lives.

An overview of the evolution of the network makes for interesting reading. Initially companies were eager to equip workstations with a desktop PC and tap into the resource to leverage off the efficiency, speed and accuracy of computing.

Then, considering the increasing levels of ongoing research and development and a constant demand, decision makers quickly copped on to the benefits of linking PCs across an established Local Area Network (LAN). Users could produce more and at a quicker pace if they could access and share a centralised source of information, and digitally interact with each other.

It was not long before decision makers realised that the LAN more than met expectations and there were obvious advantages to expanding the link. The emergence of the Wide Area Network (WAN) linking offices and capitalizing off inter-branch connectivity was a natural progression, fuelled by the drive to expand presence in the market and assimilate, consolidate and utilise interest.

The corporate network had quickly grown from a few stand-alone PCs into a fully encompassing, connected network that could be reinforced with peripheral and other digital equipment, that could integrate with systems and migrate onto more advanced infrastructure – as and when technology developed.

Those who had been quick to adapt to change and embraced the opportunity now had a critical business resource that represented a tangible, sustainable extension of the business.

The PC had evolved from a seemingly isolated piece of machinery to something that found place within client server environment, attracted and hosted partners and customers, and is now used to engage with anyone, anytime and any place.

We now find ourselves in a position whereby services and applications have shifted from being on a network and now rest within the cloud-based computing domain.

The fact is that the network and managed ICT services space has matured to the extent that now ‘anything-as-a-service’ is available and accessible, be it hardware, software, licensing or any other critical business application.

Businesses are now coming to grips with a ‘technology-anywhere’ environment characterised by services-on-demand, access anywhere and the rapid progression of social networking as a component in commerce and trade.

In essence, what started out as a simple LAN has developed into a fully operational, accessible and sustainable ‘global network’.

The truly exciting part of it all is that this can only grow further and this is precisely what service providers should be aware of and prepare themselves for.

The prognosis looks good for networking in South Africa. Traditional limitations in the form of bandwidth restriction, exorbitant operational costs associated with managed services investment, available resources and a shortage of technical skills are being slowly but surely addressed.

Today these services and applications are readily available to a much wider spectrum of businesses – from the small-to-medium sized organization, right through to the larger enterprise.

The small-to-medium market segment stands to benefit from a more accessible, affordable virtual service portfolio – attractive from a cost and availability point of view, without the necessity of large capital outlay, training or other business-intensive responsibilities.

Improved technology, greater investment and a maturity in infrastructure position and leverage bodes well for the future of the corporate network, online commerce and trade.