December 31, 2008

Is Your Network Ready for the 21st Century?

  • A Webtorials Analysis
  • Jim Metzler and Steven Taylor
IT organizations don't significantly alter their approach to something as critical as network design based on minor changes in either business or technology. For example, no rational IT organization would make a significant change in their approach to LAN design simply because they were in the process of making a modest deployment of WLANs. In that case, they would do what IT organizations always do - bolt a fix onto the existing LAN design.

However, after several "minor" changes occur, there comes a time when it is necessary to reconsider the network design rather than to continue to bolt fixes onto the network. For instance, the need to support new traffic types (such as video) is one of the factors driving the current transition in network design. Other factors include the ongoing need for more effective security, the increasing impact of industry and governmental regulations, the demand for new applications (such as collaboration), and the movement towards Green IT and IP storage.

This need for a fundamental shift in network design is part of an on-going cycle. A decade ago the movement from shared media to switched Ethernet was driven by two fundamental requirements - the need for higher availability and enhanced performance. By contrast, the current environment adds a focus on services and functionality as well. This causes a fundamental paradigm shift from viewing the LAN as a relatively unintelligent factor in a flat network to its being the heart of a hierarchical, extremely intelligent network with full functionality to support a wide range of current and future requirements.

This paper addresses both the factors driving the need for change and the requirement for adopting a more intelligent network design.

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