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Insightful analysis by consultants Steve Taylor and Jim Metzler, plus links to the latest WAN news headlines

Free e-mail newsletter on wide area networking news and resources from Network World.
Convergence - The "Final Frontier"
So here we are. After more than 13 years and considerably more than 1,300 semi-weekly newsletters, it's time to move on to alternate assignments and alternate communications modes. And if pressed to single out a trend that, more than anything else, has been the hallmark of change over the duration of this newsletter, we would have to say it's "convergence." (Of course, the non-specific and ever-changing meaning of the term makes that a bit easier.)
And what about IP?
As we continue to wind down this series of newsletter, we still have two opportunities to look back and forward. In this next-to-last newsletter, we will tackle the question of the future of IP.
Connectivity - Still an issue
As mentioned in the last newsletter, this newsletter will be going away at the end of September, so we're taking a quick look back at some of the major changes we've seen over the past 13-plus years. And while there is no way that we can cover all of the issues, we're looking at some major trends.
Looking back and looking forward
These next four newsletters will mark the end of an era for this newsletter. It started as the "Frame Relay Newsletter" in 1998, and, after another analyst group wrote approximately eight issues and decided there was nothing left to write about, Steve and Joanie Wexler took the reins and started on June 1, 1998. Several years later, Joanie decided to cut back on the number of newsletters and Jim joined Steve in providing these bi-weekly updates.
The great data center LAN debate
In our last newsletter we began to outline a plan for what networking sessions you should plan on attending at the forthcoming Interop conference. We will use this newsletter to continue that discussion.
Cloud networking at Interop
The early fall is a great time to be in New York. In September there is the US Open and in October there is the Interop conference. There is no doubt that Interop can provide a major assist to IT organizations that are grappling with the onslaught of new technologies and new products. There is also no doubt that anybody who is going to Interop should go with a plan for what they want to accomplish or else they can get overwhelmed. The goal of this newsletter is to help Interop attendees develop a plan for the networking sessions that they want to attend.
Mobility and the WAN
For the rest of September, we will be concentrating primarily on shifts that we have seen over the past 13 years that we have been authoring this newsletter, beginning with its start as the "Frame Relay Newsletter."
The strategic importance of an ADC
In our last newsletter we began to discuss the role of the network in supporting cloud computing. We will continue that discussion in this newsletter and we will focus on the topic of how Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) are rapidly becoming a key enabler of cloud computing.
How the network supports cloud computing
Over the last few years there have been a seemingly endless array of articles and reports written on cloud computing. These articles are helpful in that they identify trends in the growing adoption of cloud computing. However, these articles and reports seldom focus on what all of this means to the network. The next two newsletters will focus on the impact of cloud computing on the network in general and will look at the role of the application delivery controller in particular.
What's the best alternative to Spanning Tree?
In a recent newsletter we mentioned the fact that we are driving a series of monthly discussions on the evolution of data center LANs and are including in those discussions six of the leading vendors: Arista, Avaya, Brocade, Cisco, Extreme and HP. The August discussion topic is the best alternative to the spanning tree protocol (STP). We will use this newsletter to summarize some of the discussion
The macro view on the need for standardized definitions
In closing out our discussion for the time being on defining "services" vs. "applications," we'll take you back to a real-world accounting of an instance in which the lack of definition of "service" caused a lot of confusion and a massive legal mess.
The micro view on the need for standardized definitions
As a continuation of our discussion of the need for defining "applications" and "services," we'll continue to try to define exactly what a "service" is.
Not-so-simple services
In the last newsletter, we began a discussion, based on a question with reference to Jim's "2011 Application & Service Delivery Handbook." And while we came up with a pretty good definition for an "application," the definition of a "service" in general is becoming increasingly complex.
Defining applications vs services
One of the perpetual tasks in telecommunications is defining the terms that we're talking about. For example, we all talk about "the Cloud," but we bet that most folks when asked would have vastly differing definitions - if able to define at all.
The great data center network debate
As was discussed in the last newsletter, all of data center network design guidelines and technologies that IT organizations have used for the last decade are now being questioned. The good news is that IT organizations have a lot of new and emerging technology and design options that they can implement. The bad news is that the breadth of available options can be overwhelming. We will use this newsletter to describe a series of discussions on data center networking that we are driving the goal of which is to help IT organization evaluate their options.
The data center network transition
Up until a couple of years ago, the data center network was somewhat staid. Today, however, it is anything but staid as the majority of IT organizations are trying to determine how they should evolve their data center networks to support the demands brought about by the ongoing adoption of technologies such as server virtualization. 
The impact of cloud balancing on application delivery
This is the second of two newsletters that is focused on the impact that cloud computing is having on application delivery. With that objective in mind, this newsletter will look at the pros and cons of cloud balancing.
Cloud computing and business critical applications
In the last two newsletters we discussed some of the impact that virtualization is having on application delivery. In the next two newsletters we will discuss the impact that cloud computing is having on application delivery. With that in mind, this newsletter will discuss some of the issues associated with using a public cloud computing solution to support the delivery of business critical applications.
More on virtualization and application delivery
In our last newsletter we began the discussion of how virtualization is making application and service delivery more challenging and how IT organizations are responding to those challenges. We will use this newsletter to continue that discussion.
The impact of virtualization on application delivery
We will use the next two newsletters to discuss some of the ways that virtualization is making application and service delivery more challenging and we will point out how IT organizations are responding to those challenges.
The consumerization of IT
Like it or not, consumer electronics are becoming an integral part of the corporate IT infrastructure. This has never been more critical than it is right now in the adoption of “smart phones,” pads, and tablets. In fact, it is really no longer appropriate to think of a phone as a telephony device. Rather, it’s a computer – and in some cases, a pretty darn powerful computer – with voice running as one of the many applications.
The greatest security threat? Stupid people
Hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear about a security breach of some form. And most of us spend almost as much time and energy making sure that our networks are secure as we do on performance and optimization.  
IT caught in a vice
In our last newsletter we started to discuss some of the application delivery trends that we are highlighting in the 2011 Application and Service Delivery Handbook. We will use this newsletter to continue that discussion.
The 2011 Application and Service Delivery Handbook
When we published the first application delivery handbook in 2007 one of the primary goals of the document was to help IT organizations understand that successful application delivery involves more than just making sure that protocols such as TCP and CIFS run well over the WAN. 
Farewell to the DS-0?
In the most recent article about SIP Trunking, we mentioned that service providers are now starting to provide packet-based services for intercompany communications for voice and other multimedia communications. As such, we may be saying a semi-final farewell to the DS-0, a – or even the – fundamental building block for telecommunications networks for about 50 years.

Steve Taylor is president of Distributed Networking Associates and publisher/editor-in-chief of Webtorials. Jim Metzler is vice president of Ashton, Metzler & Associates.

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