Next-generation LANs, branches under consideration

Experts mull changing enterprise network environments

The next-generation LAN will be mobile, secure, intelligent and service- vs. speed-oriented, experts at the Interop New York conference said here this week.

At the same time, branch office architectures are also evolving, inheriting more applications, services, features and functions usually contained at corporate headquarters sites. Experts shared these viewpoints in two separate sessions at this week's conference.

LAN architectures are undergoing a "fundamental change" in order to support future applications able to be securely accessed anytime, anywhere from any place, says Chris Silva, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"Ubiquitous computing is the next big thing," Silva says, driven by globalization, virtualization and collaboration. "Thirty percent of enterprises are making use of public Wi-Fi or public cellular data."

Architectures optimized for distributed applications in 2005 evolved into those focused on security and IT consolidation in 2006, he says. This year's wave will be LAN infrastructures designed to accommodate disaster recovery and further consolidation.

Enterprises want their networks to function as a utility, and wireless coverage will drive infrastructure deployments, Silva says. With that, he believes IEEE 802.11n wireless LANs and WiMAX will become pervasive in the 2011 to 2013 timeframe.

Along with ubiquity, users will demand security and integration with wired and voice infrastructures. That's fine with wireless companies like Trapeze Networks and secure switching vendors like ConSentry.

Components of the "new" LAN include mobility, security and identity-based networking -- the ability to configure users access and services, vs. switch and router ports, says David Cohen, Trapeze director of marketing.

The LAN architecture will encompass a hybrid of distributed forwarding and centralized forwarding based on the application: distributed for latency-sensitive traffic like voice over WLAN and ".11n ready" applications; and centralized for security-sensitive traffic like guest access, Cohen says.

Switches will support "virtual stacking," Cohen says, in which capacity is pooled and automatically assigned, remapped and balanced across access point when they are added to or subtracted from the network.

The ability to support transparent roaming for voice will go a long way in determing how users construct their WLAN networks, Cohen argues. So will security, says Jeff Prince, chairman and CTO of ConSentry Networks.

That's why users will migrate to secure switching with network access -- or admission -- control (NAC) capabilities becoming integrated table stakes for LAN switches.

"The LAN is a much more open place," Prince says. "All of the family jewels sit in the network."

LANs have failed to keep up with the proliferation of malware, regulatory requirements like Sarbanes-Oxley and the need for greater visibility into user behavior, Prince argues. As examples, he noted recent breaches at companies like TJ Maxx, DuPont and Boeing.

"The LAN was built for connectivity, not for control," Prince says. "The shift going forward is going to be on control."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jim Duffy

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?