Key trends that will influence enterprise networks in 2015

It’s hard to fathom that 2015 is already upon us, but what many people do not realize is that it also signals the midway point of the decade. That’s right, 2015 will mean that we are going to be as close to 2020 as we are to 2010. We’re closing in on the mid-point of the decade, but are we as an industry any closer to comfortably handling the continuing “data deluge” that I spoke about a year ago?

It depends!  Progress has certainly been made on many fronts, and some organizations are in much better shape than others in addressing bandwidth and network intelligence requirements.  However, I don’t have to tell you that the pace of industry and technology change is unrelenting, and will require a high level of agility and speed just to keep up.

So get ready to kick it up another notch. Here is a summary of what I believe will be some of the key trends influencing enterprise networks in 2015:

1. The Internet of Things is Upon Us

Infrastructure providers play an increasingly critical role in enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether providing wired or wireless connectivity to devices, or software-based solutions coupled with connectivity, providers play an increasingly important role. The IoT is evolving to meet the customers’ needs for better data in real-time.

2. The Importance of Sensor Networks in the Building

As buildings become more intelligent, we see the use of sensors coming into play. A sensor-based network, like the kind used with intelligent lighting solutions, is powered through structured cabling and plays an important role in making buildings increasingly intelligent. The sensors collect data that help facilities managers make better decisions on space utilization and energy usage, as well as provide a security feature through motion and thermal tracking.

3. Crowning of Category 6A
2014 saw Category 6A making its way out of the data center and into the building.  This trend can be attributed to a few factors:

a. New generations of Wi-Fi access points are requiring more and more bandwidth.  This will continue to have a positive effect on getting consumers to think about going to a higher grade cabling. In 2014, the IEEE approved the 802.11ac wireless networking standard that provided high-throughput wireless local area networks. This is one driver that I believe will create an uptick on Category 6 and 6A, also resulting in a significant decline in Category 5E. We are also witnessing higher education and healthcare organizations requiring high-bandwidth and deploying Category 6A per the TIA recommendations.

b. Category 6A is also a viable carrier for next generation indoor cellular wireless solutions as well as Wi-Fi.  Wireless coverage is considered by many as the next utility within the building and Category 6A can provide the infrastructure for Wi-Fi as well as next generation in- building wireless systems.

4. Continued Adoption of Fiber Solutions
When it comes to high grade multimode optical fiber, as well as pre-terminated solutions, the move towards OM4 has accelerated. OM4 is being used in 40G and 100G networks around the world and that is driving users and manufactures to ask for higher grade cabling. We are working with industry standards groups on next generation fiber – like the TIA TR-42 group discussing the proposal of a wide band multimode fiber solution.

5. The Unleashing of Category 8
You might already know about the 40G standard debate that has been ongoing since its first concept demonstration in late 2012. In 2015, I think the standard will take a step closer to the light of the market with manufacturers getting ready to either put Category 8 into pre-production or provide a limited availability in anticipation of a standard which might be completed in 2015 or early 2016. Pre-standardization can be referred to as a manufacturing phase that provides a limited availably of a product to allow for customer trials and sampling – this phase will probably be the first sighting of Category 8 in the market.