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The history of computing can be defined by the movement of bottleneck around the data center. Every time a bottleneck appears a massive opportunity emerges for the channel. The next great bottleneck is going to be the networking layer in the cloud.

A recent survey of 1,300 IT professionals conducted by Cisco finds that the one of biggest inhibitors to cloud computing adoption is the readiness of the network  According to Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior marketing director for the Cisco Services Routing Technology Group, a majority of organizations that intend to make use of cloud computing on any serious level are probably going to wind up upgrading their networks, which given the number of IT professionals that said they would be making more significant use of the cloud in 2012 may be happening sooner than later.

The really good news for the channel is that about two in five of the IT professionals surveyed also said they get a root canal, dig a ditch, or do their own taxes than address network challenges associated with public or private cloud deployments. In addition, nearly one quarter of IT decision makers said that over the next six months, they are more likely to see a UFO, a unicorn or a ghost before they see their company’s cloud migration starting and finishing. That would suggest that they might be more than happy to recruit some enterprising solution providers to do that work on their behalf.

The odds are also good that this issue is about to become chronic. The IT professionals surveyed make it clear there is a significant spike in the number of cloud computing projects they are supposed to complete in 2012, with many of them saying it should take them on average six months to complete. In addition, storage and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications were cited as the most pressing applications customers wanted to move to the cloud, both of which will more than likely require some additional outside expertise. But unless they are willing to invest in upgrading their networks those goals may prove to be wildly optimistic, at least from the perspective of having something in place that could really support the performance requirements of a cloud computing application.

In many cases that will mean upgrading to 40 Gigabit Ethernet equipment, but longer term the debate is going to be between the merits of scaling out 40G Ethernet equipment versus consolidating that equipment using next generation 100G Ethernet equipment. That would suggest that customers are going to be looking at multiple phases of network upgrades over the next few years.

Cloud computing is changing just about every facet of cloud computing these days. But the one thing that is never going to change is the dependency IT organizations have on network bandwidth, which is already in limited supply. Cloud computing by definition exacerbates that problem multiple times over, which should create a gift to the channel that will keep on giving for many years to come.