As confidence rises and the grip on budgets loosens, funds may free up for managers to invest in their networks in 2004.
Innovation over the past few years certainly continued, placing ever more demand on network resources.
As network spending picks up, it will give managers plenty to think about, potentially presenting conflicting priorities between running a fast, flexible network and securing the company assets.
I think many companies will upgrade their switches, taking advantage of cheaper Ethernet prices and helping to ease the bottlenecks that have arisen over the past couple of years.
Managed network security services will also become more popular, as companies try to ease the burden of ensuring the integrity of their networks.
But the obvious consideration is wireless networking, whether to wireless or not, and if you do, which standard to adopt.
So much was said and written about wireless hotspots last year that they are now almost de rigueur for coffee shops, airports, hotels and fast food outlets, but will continue to be niche money earners for the time being.
Put aside hotspots, and consider instead how useful a corporate wireless network will be.
Security fears and standards confusion have held back adoption although, as the fog clears, more companies will complement their wired network with 'official', properly managed wireless local area networks, ending the need for employees to rig up their own.
Security concerns surrounding 802.11 networks have waned, and rightly so. While there are issues to consider, and the new 802.11i standard has been painfully slow in arriving, decent levels of security can be achieved and maintained.
Like security, spectrum standards became a dog's dinner, with businesses facing a choice between 'a', 'b', 'g', 'h' and, in a year or two, 'n'. The latter offers the fastest throughput of 100Mbps and, like 'a' and 'h', operates in the 5GHz band.
And like previous standards, some in the industry are determined to prove they have learnt nothing by releasing chipsets ahead of the 802.11n standard's ratification.
Meanwhile, vendors have begun releasing chipsets that work across the alphabet standards, and these will help make wireless networks more attractive.
That leaves the final step down to IT managers, and whether they believe that the flexibility afforded by wireless networks offers enough business benefits to run and manage them.
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