May you live in interesting times

Thus goes an ancient Chinese curse. Though I don’t know if it really is a curse, it sure is the most apt way to characterise the past 12 months in the enterprise networking. Those who have been in the industry for a long time would vouch for the fact that nothing new has happened in the networking space for a decade. No new innovations, whatsoever. But, that is changing pretty quickly with the flurry of new technologies and innovation that we are witnessing today. Driven by the number of devices that are latching on to the network and the advent of new technologies such as virtualisation and cloud computing, network, as know it today, is going through a radical transformation. Though nothing has changed fundamentally in the network per se, it is being forced to respond to the changes happening around and accommodate this new breed of applications and technologies. You just can’t do cloud computing if you don’t re-engineer your network first. With users getting distributed and more and more computing power being outside the data centre, companies will have no option but to re-architect their networks and facilitate this new concept of a distributed data centre.

With every networking vendor worth is salt talking about collapsing network layers , putting storage and data on the same pipe with a single pane of glass management, we might have to re-think the ways we build networks today, which haven’t really changed over the last 20 years. Will Ethernet emerge as the core foundation of tomorrow’s data centres? Or will on-premises enterprise data centres, as we know it today, will completely disappear with all the computing resources available on the cloud? These are some of the burning questions that really can’t be answered at the moment, because some of the technologies that have emerged as the hottest buzzwords are still in the oven. What is for sure that vendors have a lot more to do make Ethernet ready for these impending changes . According to users at the recent Ethernet Technology Summit, Ethernet could be a lot more greener and fabric-friendly. Despite all the efforts by vendors and standard organisation, we still have a long way to go to ruggedize and reduce the power consumption of Ethernet switches and routers for data centre applications.

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