Frame Relay Hangs Tough
by Joanie Wexler

Published July 2001




Frame relay has staved off a number of would-be conquerors since it began life in 1991. To be sure, there are other successful, competing network services—including ATM, IP virtual private networks (IP VPNs), DSL, emerging Gigabit Ethernet metro-area services and transparent LAN services. There are even some pockets of Switched Multimegabit Data Service (SMDS) still registering a pulse.


However, overwhelmingly, frame relay remains today's enterprise WAN of choice. Frame has persevered primarily because of its simplicity, widespread availability and its ability to adapt to evolving customer needs. Also, competition from IP VPNs has not become as fierce as expected—at least not yet—because foundation technologies such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and quality of service (QOS) are still developing.


The majority of enterprises still feel comfortable enough with frame relay to resist migrating—at least on a large scale—to other emerging WAN alternatives. Even those who are testing the IP VPN waters for remote access as well as for transport of non-mission-critical traffic (a more common practice in Europe and Asia than in the U.S.), are sticking with their bread-and-butter frame services to support their corporate applications.



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