Every Network a Carrier

Michael Vizard

As the density of both virtual and physical servers on enterprise networks continues to increase, there is going to be a corresponding increase in the need for a more symbiotic relationship between end points and the networks that serve them.

Driving that change, according to Paul Congdon, the CTO for Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve product line, is that as competition for bandwidth increases, end points are going to have to signal their requirements to the networks that will simultaneously advertise what services they have available.

Much of the focus on enterprise networks in the coming year, says Congdon, will be focused on 'assisting the control plane' to manage ever expanding amounts of network traffic. That may require, for instance, a lightweight reservation-type protocol that can actually scale beyond what people saw with initial implementation of the largely failed resource reservation protocol (RSVP) initiative from a few years ago.

In effect, this essentially means bringing much of the switching sophistication that we see in telecommunication carrier networks down to the enterprise level in a way that abstracts all the complexity from the average network manager. This approach would ultimately reverse the trend of the last several years that saw every network trying to reverse-engineer the path of any given packet in order to optimize the end-user experience. That approach will no longer work in an age of end-to-end encryption, he added, because no one will be able to see what is actually in the packet.

Congdon thinks we may not see most of these innovations until 2011, which means the coming year will see much of the foundation work for these much-needed technologies tackled by standards organizations.

Bu the net effect, adds Congdon, is that every enterprise needs to start thinking about delivering network services in much the same way that telecommunications carriers do today.

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