Seems like January 2008 was a long time ago -- and maybe that's a good thing. On the bright side, a historic presidential election definitively broke the mold of "old white guys" battling it out. But then there was the global financial meltdown, the worst terrorist attack since 9/11, and across-the-board layoffs in the tech industry. Overall, most of us are pretty happy last year is over.
Here's a look at how well Eye on the Carrier was able to call some of the most significant developments of 2008.
* Bandwidth appetite skyrockets. Check. In 2008, Nemertes benchmarked anticipated enterprise bandwidth increases at 99% -- meaning the typical enterprise telecom manager believes his or her bandwidth requirements will essentially double over the next 12 months. Budgets are flat to declining, however, so IT execs are seeking creative ways to meet the bandwidth craving -- from low-cost carrier Ethernet services to WAN optimization products.
* Unified communications takes off. I'll give myself half a point on this one. While virtually all the enterprise organizations I've worked with are assessing their UC strategies, real investment in this area will likely wait until 2009 or even 2010 (see next week's predictions). Not to get too Clintonian here, but it all comes down to the definition of "takes off."
* Hosting and outsourcing goes mainstream. Another solid hit. We've seen a dramatic uptick in the deployment of managed services (67% of folks Nemertes benchmarked say they're using some flavor of managed services). Last year I predicted "Companies such as Equinix that capitalize on these trends are having a booming year -- expect it to continue." Well, although Equinix has had a rocky year -- who hasn't? -- the firm ended the year fairly solidly, and it remains a market darling, with "outperform" ratings from financial folks like Wachovia.
* Video ratchets up. Okay, this was a safe call -- we've seen major enterprises ink deals with players like Cisco and AT&T who offer telepresence solutions. But there's more to come: watch for travel restrictions to drive the use of these systems up sharply in 2009.
* Wireless data explodes. Yup. Reuters calls 2008 a "banner year" for wireless data -- and virtually all my enterprise clients have seen wireless data as one of the few line items that continues to increase sharply in IT budgets. The iPhone has driven demand for -- and acceptance of -- high-bandwidth applications, like TV and video over wireless.
Last but not least, I predicted last year that 2008 would see "a wholesale reshaping of the telecom industry." I'm not sure how to rate this one. The industry certainly feels very different, with carrier Ethernet threatening MPLS' dominance, broadband wireless becoming a real alternative, and VOIP, UC and multimedia communications beginning to take off. But there hasn't been a major consolidation or change in players (other than Sprint's continued slow decline). So leaving that one aside, my performance on verifiable predictions is 4.5 out of 5 -- or 90%. Not too shabby. For a peek at what's ahead in 09, stay tuned.