Do CIOs Know What Is Running On Their Network? [INFOGRAPHIC]

When we surveyed the strategic priorities of CIOs in industries including higher education and K-12 education, they told us that infrastructure was right at the top of their list of concerns. This month we took a deeper dive and asked CIOs across all industries to tell us what they believe about the applications and traffic running on their network infrastructure. We received over 740 responses to our survey. What we found indicates there is often a lot more going on across the network than the IT staff is aware of.

Our survey presented the CIOs and IT staff members with a series of questions about their network infrastructure, including what applications are currently running, how close their networks are operating to maximum capacity, and how sure they are about this data. We then compared the survey results with actual network data measured at Extreme Networks (referred to as the "benchmark").

The IT staff estimates agree with our benchmark that web browsing is the top consumer of network bandwidth. However, the IT staff estimates differ from our benchmark when it comes to the network load imposed by file uploading and downloading. File transfers were ranked as the sixth highest consumer of network bandwidth by IT staffs, while our benchmark placed it in second place. We'll pursue whether this difference is due to a bias in IT perceptions or to actual network traffic dissimilarity in follow-up research. One possibility is that IT staffs are underestimating the effects that growing cloud usage is starting to have on the amount of files now being transferred across their networks.

The IT estimates in the survey differed from our benchmark in two other areas. The network load of voice over IP (VoIP) was estimated by IT as lower than the actual data in our benchmark, while CRM application loading was overestimated by the CIOs. It is possible that IT departments are anticipating reduced VoIP usage as mobile phones take over voice communication. They may also expect to see a growing CRM bandwidth requirement as these applications incorporate more multimedia data over time; again this will be the topic of follow-on research.

Our survey found that K-12 and transportation are the industries most confident in their knowledge of their network bandwidth usage. The industries with the least confidence in their network bandwidth understanding are healthcare and federal government.

Communication Application Trends

We asked about the apps that people are now using to communicate, and which ones they expect to use five years into the future. Is email fading away, to be replaced by new social media applications? The full results surprised us. People may constantly complain about email (we get too much, it carries viruses and worms, and important messages don't always get delivered), but most of those surveyed actually expect to use email even more in the future.

As shown in the infographic, Email, voice, texting, internal corporate messaging (for example, Chatter and Yammer), and Skype usage will grow over the next five years. On the other side, according to our survey, there will be less use of voicemail, Facebook messaging, Twitter messaging, Google+, and Facetime in the future.