Article plots future of LAN gear

* Article looks at next generation of LAN switches

This time I want to take a moment to highlight a very interesting article on NetworkWorld.com all about the next generation of LAN switches.

The story by Joanne Cummings takes some of the trends we’ve been seeing and wraps them all up into one article.

The most prominent of these trends is the one of putting more security functions into LAN switches. This is something that has already been started, and the article says we should expect more of that. Any kind of specialty security devices - such as firewalls and SSL-termination devices - are candidates for rolling into LAN switches in some fashion, particularly large, chassis-based switches.

In fact, the overall theme of the article is that many functions, security-related and otherwise, could become features or line cards of a larger switch. Server load balancing and Web acceleration are candidates there. Again, specialty devices become features.

This isn’t unlike what Microsoft has traditionally done on its operating system, where specialty software is rolled into the operating system over time. The practice consolidated power to Microsoft, and the similar practice on switches will consolidate power to large switch manufacturers.

In the case of the switch makers, those extra features will still be where all the profit margin is, rather than in raw switching speed, so they have every incentive to make this scenario come true.

Policy-based management is covered in the article as a next-generation technology, and you might think that policies have been around for quite a while. But the policies are going to have to match the other technology enhancements, so there is still much work to be done.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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