By Sufian Dweik, Regional Director, MEMA at Brocade
1. Rise of "Always-Connected User" and Death of the "Transaction-Based" user
Google's annual Mobile Planet smartphone study has revealed the United Arab Emirates has some of the highest smartphone penetration in the world, with 62% of mobile phone users in the country reporting that they own smartphones.
This trend is spreading quickly across the entire Middle East with other countries like Egypt leading the pack. Globally more than 440 million mobile handsets were shipped in the third quarter of 2012, with more than 25 percent of those being smartphones, indicating the user appetite for connectivity.
With the roll-out of higher-performing networks (such as 4G and LTE) and devices that offer seamless connectivity, 2013 will be the year that we see the decline of the "transaction-based" user and the rise of the "always-connected" user [A "transaction-based user" is an individual that will connect to the Internet to conduct an activity (such as to make a purchase or to stream content), and then log off. The user sparingly uses bandwidth and does not rely on connectivity for every aspect of their life.] Internet connectivity prices will drop as operators vie for consumer loyalty, fuelling the trend for 24/7 connectivity.
Businesses will engage in social media and communities to host a larger portion of their customer experience and support processes. For the entire scenario to operate seamlessly, a never-fail back-end network is crucial - for operators, businesses and users.
2. Cloud under the microscope
Businesses will scrutinize the impact of the cloud, its benefits, usage and ROI more than ever before. Are deployments delivering the agility and cost savings predicted? Are users benefitting? How can one measure cloud ROI when, by design, the assets are not owned by the organization? With this in mind, I predict that IT organizations will attempt to take back control of their own assets (and budgets) and the deployment of private cloud architectures will accelerate during the second half of the year.
IT organizations will also challenge the new breed of service provider by offering competing hosted services. This strategy will help them to bolster revenue opportunities from a market that will be worth $73 billion by 2015. This will be good news for users, but will need to be accompanied by a thorough evaluation strategy to ensure that performance, resilience and cost models meet organizational expectations.
3. Customers bite back on vendor lock-in
As consumers, we don't like being shackled. More generally, "product de-siloing" is a clear macro-trend. Whether it is the flexibility to personalize apps on our phone, or select the optional extras on our vehicles, choice is paramount. Within the networking space, choice is even more imperative. As alliances ebb and flow, and integrated offerings continue to break into the mainstream, the importance of open architectures and multivendor solutions will become more prevalent in 2013.
Trust is essential when building a network to support mission-critical applications, and enterprises will turn to trusted vendors to deploy flexible and scalable solutions. As such, those vendors not able to coexist in multivendor environments will struggle in this more demanding, and competitive, landscape. Only the agile and collaborative will prosper, and I expect at least one major vendor casualty in the coming year.