2006: The year in LANs (and routers)

* The year in review

In the last issue of the year I like to look back at the year that was. 2006 was a powerful year for Ethernet standards, and an interesting one for wireless extensions to LANs.

The Ethernet Alliance was formed early in the year, a LAN alliance to end all LAN alliances. As the months went by, many vendors signed up, and how could they not? Its mission is to champion Ethernet in all its different forms, and not to be a part of that is to be against the network industry equivalent of motherhood and apple pie.

We saw 10 Gigabit Ethernet over copper become standard. And with that, the IEEE turned its eyes toward the next step - which, after some grappling with the issues, was decided to be 100Gbps Ethernet. We also saw 10GBase-LRM become standard, so that 10 Gigabit Ethernet can run over multimode fiber-optic lines in a less expensive way.

Wireless LANs became even more widespread, and it seemed like every wired network had some kind of wireless component to it. Metropolitan WLANs continued to spread. Voice over Wi-Fi started to emerge as a critical app for wireless, if not a killer app. And vendors got ahead of themselves by releasing wireless products that use a draft, pre-standard version of 802.11n.

Power over Ethernet is standard issue for most edge equipment, a trend that started before 2006 but really took hold this year.

On the vendor front, a couple of highlights - 3Com made its move to buy out Huawei's share of their joint venture, and Cisco laid out its long-term plan to transform IOS into a more modular software system.

In 2007, we'll be watching the early development of 100Gbps Ethernet, monitoring the spread of 10 Gigabit, and seeing where all this wireless access takes us. And I'm sure there will be some surprises along the way. As always, thanks for reading and we'll see you next year.


Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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