Consolidation is the key for CIOs as the demand for network agility and increased productivity increases.

According to research, 76 per cent of enterprises consider IT consolidation to be one of the top three IT issues they face in the coming year, followed by both virtualisation and security. The CIOs, questioned by Brocade for the study, expect future corporate networks to fulfil a wide range of sometimes conflicting demands.

They want unprecedented scalability but reduced management complexity (61 per cent), seamless mobility and increased agility (38 per cent), and nearly half want emerging networking technologies to complement the investments they are making today, instead of forcing them to refresh the entire environment in a wholesale 'rip-and-replace' exercise, while reducing the total cost of ownership.

Network performance is also now a critical business driver, with over half of respondents citing reduced productivity (resulting from legacy systems) as having a significant effect on business success. As testament to this, 40 per cent of IT departments are now spending between ten to 30 per cent of their time reacting to network downtime instead of investing in business development.

Alberto Soto, vice president EMEA at Brocade, said: “Tomorrow's networking environment will consolidate user application traffic and storage data traffic onto a single, high-performance, highly available network that has the built-in intelligence to identify different traffic types and handle them appropriately, according to predefined rules. The benefits of a unified network are clear in terms of increasing performance and enabling business productivity, not to mention reducing complexity.”