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.

The Interop conference in New York City will feature a number of debates. On Thursday, Oct. 6 Jim will moderate session entitled "Great Debate: Is this the end of Physical Appliances?" The key question that this session addresses is given all the advances in standard, off the shelf computing devices, is there still a need for a purpose built appliance? In order to answer that question, the session will focus on two types of appliances. One mini-debate will look at whether there is still a need for a hardware based WAN Optimization Controller (WOC) and the other mini debate will focus on whether there still is a need for a hardware based Application Delivery Controller (ADC).

Virtualization and cloud computing are having a dramatic impact on the data center LAN. For example, as recently as a few years ago, the majority of data center LANs were based on a three-tier architecture consisting of access, distribution and core switches. These LANs also featured the spanning tree protocol, were designed to support north-south traffic and were kept separate from the data center SAN. Now, in large part due to the adoption of virtualization and cloud computing, all of the assumptions about how to design a data center LAN are being questioned. On Thursday, Oct. 6 Jim will moderate a two-hour session entitled "Deep Dive: Architecting and Evaluating Technologies for Your Next Data Center LAN." During this session, a wide variety of data center LAN switch vendors will debate technical issues such as the best alternative to the spanning tree protocol as well as issues such as the pros and cons of having a single LAN switch vendor vs. having multiple vendors. Another important topic that will be covered in this session is the role of OpenFlow. It will be fascinating to see how the vendors position OpenFlow.

Managing the end user's experience has always been difficult. However, the adoption of virtualization and cloud computing makes this task notably more difficult in part because monitoring must occur on a per virtual machine basis. The session entitled "User Experience: Monitor the Network or Monitor the Application" will be held on Friday, Oct. 7. This is the last of the debates in Jim's networking track. The goal of this debate is to identify the best way to monitor the user's experience. Is it just from gathering management data from the network or is additional data required and justified? This session is followed by a session entitled "Network Management: Which Direction to Take?" The panelists on this session will discuss the pros and cons of a number of issues that are central to how IT organizations move forward with network management. For example, should IT organizations acquire tools that are best of breed or acquire an integrated suite of tools? Should IT organizations continue to own network management tools or should they rent them from a public cloud computing service provider?

Hopefully you will be able to attend the Interop conference in New York City as there are so many exciting sessions, both in Jim's networking track and in the other tracks.

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