Trends Point Toward New Internet Architecture

If you thought the first 20 years of
Internet networking advancements were amazing, analysts
with the Burton Group say, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The Midvale, Utah-based IT research and advisory firm,
which Thursday issued its annual predictions for the year,
says if current trends continue, the evolution of network
technologies, products, services and standards will certainly
be a testing ground for network administrators.

“The rate of change in the networking and telecom industry
is arguably now greater than ever,” said Burton research
director David Passmore during his keynote to Catalyst
Conference attendees in San Francisco. “Lots of enterprises will have to
re-architect their networks to accommodate these trends
such as IP telephony, wireless LANs and Internet security

But, Passmore says that’s actually good news considering
what happened in 2001 and 2002, which he summarized as
“arguably the worst two years in the public networking area,
with significant residual effects on service providers and

The company’s “Vision 2003” report instead points to better
times as new developments in network security, IP
telephony, mobile and wireless networking, storage area
networks, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), and new
virtual private networks are causing a shift in
vendor and investor focus to enterprises.

Passmore says the following trends will really drive network

Security: Firewall products are being augmented
with hardware acceleration, deeper packet
inspection to close the “port 80 hole,” and the
ability to open ports dynamically in response to
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or
other applications requiring more than static port
assignments. Intrusion detection systems that
passively monitor networks are morphing into
in-line intrusion protection systems. And security
products will become more tightly integrated into a
common system with centralized policy

Wireless and Mobility: Rather than viewing wireless
local area network (WLAN) hotspots as a threat to
third-generation (3G) cellular systems, mobile
operators now view these as complementary
technologies that will eventually work together to
permit seamless roaming. WLAN technology
continues to evolve at a rapid rate with the advent
of higher-performance 802.11a and 802.11g
standards, steerable beam antennas, mesh
networking, improved management and security,
and wireless LAN switching.

IP Telephony: IP-based phone systems are coming;
it’s only a matter of time before they become
mainstream. IP private branch exchanges (PBXs)
will migrate from today’s proprietary
signaling protocols to Session Initiation Protocol
(SIP), while providing features comparable to
current PBXs, improved system availability, unified
communications, a wealth of new third-party
applications, integration with mobile/cellular
phones, and inline power over Ethernet.
SAN/NAS: Storage area networks (SANs) and
network-attached storage (NAS) are gaining
traction as organizations require additional remote
access to shared storage devices. The biggest trend
is the use of iSCSI (Internet Small Computer
Systems Interface), which is based on commodity Ethernet and IP networking technology, as an alternative to Fibre Channel.
Other developments are storage networking systems tailored to mid-sized data centers, and combined SAN/NAS products.

Site-to-Site Networking: Carriers are being forced to combine their separate Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)/frame
relay, private IP, public IP, and voice networks onto a common background based on IP and MPLS. MPLS in particular
provides the core transport for a variety of new VPN services as well as legacy ATM and frame relay services. But alternative
VPN approaches based on virtual routing and/or encrypted tunneling techniques are expected to coexist with MPLS.

“Combine all of these changes with an unstable networking and telecommunications industry that’s trying to shake off the effects of
the telecom bubble while simultaneously attempting to adapt to the disruptive effects of IP networking… and it’s clear that the next few
years will be exciting ones for enterprise network managers,” Passmore said.