Many IT departments in South African businesses will have a lot on their minds as they look at their requirements and budget for 2013. One of the most pressing questions they will face is how to deal with the continued rise in both strategic and recreational Internet traffic as more and more high-bandwidth applications and P2P traffic cross the network.
This is according to a 2012 year-end report from Exinda.

“Businesses of all sizes need to look at their network and the Internet in particular as one of their most strategic assets, and that starts with having very clear insight into the traffic that runs over it,” says Brandon Rochat, territory sales manager: South Africa at Exinda.
“With that visibility, IT administrators often find that their most strategic traffic – the traffic critical to running their business – is getting the same network SLA as someone watching a sports video on YouTube. Until enterprises have policy-based Internet control in place, many will continue to struggle with the issues that an accelerating convergence of strategic and recreational Internet traffic is placing on their networks.”

According to Exinda, the top five Internet challenges for South African businesses in 2013 will be:

* Distinguishing strategic traffic from recreational traffic – the more businesses move strategic applications to the cloud, the more difficult it will be to decipher what Web traffic should be protected and what should be controlled. For example, how can IT management tell when YouTube is being used by the marketing department for a strategic campaign and when it’s being used to watch rugby videos.

* Maintaining SLAs for newly migrated cloud applications – what will the network impact be as more premise-based applications move to the cloud? Businesses and institutions will struggle to accurately model and maintain application SLAs through the process. How will SLAs change for an application that was once run on premise and now is running in the cloud?

* Moving away from Internet backhauling – the volume of Internet traffic – especially strategic cloud and collaboration traffic – is making a centralised backhaul strategy next to impossible for the 70% of companies who have this practice in place. Going “direct to the Internet” from the branch will present a host of traffic management challenges for enterprises during 2013
* Managing strategic use of social media – recognition that the company now uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social sites for strategic campaigns presents a new problem: how do users build policy and intelligence into the network to better understand the context by which these applications are being used – to decipher when they are a priority and when they are not?

* Controlling realtime video and collaboration content – whether it’s a Google Hang Out or YouTube, the use of video in the enterprise is exploding and must be controlled. But what about the strategic collaboration video and voice like Microsoft Lync that needs to be protected?
A complex challenge is emerging around these realtime Internet collaboration applications, which can’t be optimised in the same way as conventional application traffic.