ATM is increasingly being given the thumbs down by network integrators and managers, according to the latest Black Box/'Network News' industry survey.
While 25 per cent of respondents said they were evaluating ATM in April 1997 (and eight per cent were involved in some stage of installation), the figures had dramatically fallen by November. At that stage, 13 per cent were evaluating the technology, while 13 per cent had made, or were making, an installation.
Over half of the 1,220 respondents (52 per cent) said they had rejected ATM altogether - a return to January 1996 figures, before the ATM bandwaggon had seriously got rolling.
The results of the survey reinforced the argument that traditional technologies are currently being retained, as network managers and IT strategists await further evidence of where the market is shifting.
The results surprisingly conflict with a stream of evidence from major corporations that have started to implement ATM as a backbone technology over the previous year. It suggests that, while some companies are adopting the technology, many more are refusing to succumb to its charms.
On the other hand, only 24 per cent of respondents have rejected Gigabit Ethernet technologies (a surprising two per cent have Gigabit Ethernet installed or are in the process of doing so), while a mere one in five has rejected 100Mbps Fast Ethernet.
Internet and Intranet adoption has made the most overwhleming inroads - with a mere one in 10 respondents saying they have rejected these technologies altogether.
Black Box's technical director, Patrick Hudgell, said the survey results prove that network managers are currently being driven by business need rather than exciting new technologies and price. "The fact is that Internet access is relatively inexpensive, and provides direct business results such as the ability to download software. ATM, however, is expensive and means a major change of emphasis."
The survey also provided convincing evidence that companies and organisations are not making the major infrastructure changes that they expected to do six or 12 months ago. "What they've done is different to what they said they'd do," said Black Box managing director Roger Croft.
Appletalk installations remain static at about 11 per cent of the survey sample - an inertia reflected in the market shares of Microsoft Lan Manager, IBM Lanserver and Banyan Vines.
"There's a suggestion that these operating systems are hanging around because there are no good business reasons to change them," said Croft, adding: "There's no business incentive to move, it's a kind of network inertia gripping the business."
Other results from the survey revealed that one in four respondents continue to experience one major network crash every month - with one in five crashes leading to a half day or more downtime. Furthermore, nearly one in 10 crashes lead to a full day or more downtime, proving there can be a lot of network pain for many users on a recurring basis.
Network computers also came out well in the survey: nine per cent have them installed already, while two per cent are currently in the process of adopting them. A further 18 per cent are at the evaluation stage - meaning nearly one in the three companies are well advanced in network computer trials and adoption.
Year 2000 compliance revealed the biggest shock of all: 28 per cent of respondents have yet to start implementing a programme to deal with the millennium bug. The vast majority - 58 per cent - are in throes of dealing with the problem, while a small minority - 14 per cent - are sitting pretty, having dealt with the problem.
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