The debate over whether IT buyers want to invest in dumb boxes with limited purpose or purchase hardware embedded with security, optimization and management technologies may be over.
A recent Forrester Research survey of 1,130 network-equipment decision makers at midsize and enterprise companies found that close to three-quarters of those polled prefer 'smart networks.'
Specifically, 77 percent of respondents from large companies (those with 1,000 employees or more) want their network gear to do more than direct traffic, and 65 percent of IT buyers from midsize companies (those with 100 to 999 employees) prefer intelligent appliances to dumb boxes.
'Companies, regardless of size, region or industry, overwhelmingly prefer to use smart networks in their architecture,' writes Robert Whiteley, a senior analyst at Forrester. 'Hardware advancements, more sophisticated network software and better management tools mean that firms can reliably embed intelligent security, mobility, virtualization and acceleration directly into the network.'
Recent product pushes from various companies prove vendors are looking to add more intelligence into their equipment.
According to Forrester, efforts by vendors to improve performance in their switching gear, added virtualization features and forays by equipment makers into management software could be paying off.
'Products "&brkbar; have been designed with the ability to operate on packets at wire speed. Firms can have confidence that the network has the requisite horsepower to maintain intelligent services -- better, in fact, than general purpose processors can,' the report says.
The research firm advises IT buyers to couple their intelligent equipment with appropriate management tools.
'Smart networks are already here. In fact, most enterprises ignore the majority of network-based intelligence that lies dormant in deployed gear,' Whiteley writes.