Inside The 2009 Networking Landscape recently surveyed a group of solution providers to find out what technologies are driving sales in today's networking market. Here's what we uncovered:

Pursuing Profitability

Solution providers surveyed for the 2009 State of Technology: Networking study pointed to network management as the technology that will be most profitable for their businesses this year. A somewhat new category, unified data center devices, came in at No. 2, as VARs and integrators plan for big margins on platforms that combine networking, server and other capabilities to target data center customers. Gigabit Ethernet switches rounded out the top-three most profitable technologies.

VARs and integrators are eyeing network management tools as the technology that will generate the fastest-growing sales for them in 2009. Also primed for a growth spurt is VoIP, which solution providers named the No. 2 fastest-growing technology. Unified data center devices rounded out the top three.

Only 23 percent of surveyed solution providers are feeling pessimistic about the growth rate for the networking market this year, saying they expect the pace to cool. The bulk of surveyed solution providers (43 percent) said they expect the growth rate for the networking market overall to remain fairly steady, while another 23 percent said they expect increased growth.

When it comes to hot, new technologies, 802.11n wireless gear is most likely to be adopted by customers this year as businesses put more emphasis on the mobility of their workforces. That's followed closely by Gigabit Ethernet switches and IP videoconferencing, according to surveyed solution providers.

While 28 percent of surveyed partners said they don't think the federal stimulus package will create sales growth for networking technologies, others were much more optimistic. Over 27 percent said both wired and wireless data networking gear will see an upswing as a result, while another 18 percent are placing bets on VoIP/unified communications technology.

When it comes to innovation in the networking market, solution providers said VoIP and unified communications technology will see the most creativity over the next 12 to 18 months as vendors try to bring new collaboration solutions to market. Wireless technology, spurred primarily by the development of the high-speed 802.11n protocol, also played strong at No. 2, followed by IP videoconferencing, which is high on many customers' must-have lists as travel budgets continue to shrink.