Networks Need A New Application
by Robin Layland
Published April 2006; Posted August 2006
What we hired the network to do in the past - reliably switch and route packets at high speeds - has basically been achieved. Speeds of 1- and 10-Gigabits far outstrip the needs of most every user. Future challenges, such as video and TV, will require more speed, but for enterprises, these challenges are way in the future, and 40- or 100-Gigabit Ethernet will be there to solve the problem. The key is that these increases in speed will not change the network architecture; only the speeds will change.
Even security problems at the network layer have been addressed. Network layer firewalls do an excellent job of opening and closing ports and recognizing network level attacks such as denial of service (DoS). So does all of this mean our jobs are over and itís time to find a new career?
Fortunately, the answer is no. Users and customers have new demands beyond the original challenge of making packets secure and moving them faster, and the network is in the ideal position to solve these new demands.
The new jobs are all application focused, requiring networkers to move up the stack. The jobs include making applications perform better - not just making bits go faster. We also have to make them safer through better security that understands what is traversing the network at the application layer, and we have to support virtualization and consolidation.
Networkers must implement a new application-focused architecture that requires learning new skills and deploying new equipment that performs new tricks. The new architecture is called an Application Delivery Architecture. Networkers that take up this new challenge will have a bright and interesting future.
About the author:
Robin Layland is president of Layland Consulting, a firm that specializes in network architecture and new technology including application acceleration, security and WiFi. He has more than 25 yearsí experience including technical and management positions at leading enterprises and working with the vendor community.
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