The Biggest Thing Since Ethernet

Oct 19, 2011


The combination of Ethernet and TCP/IP is so powerful and so fundamental to the way we craft data center systems that it's almost heresy to even suggest we move beyond those protocols. In the 1990s, Gartner famously predicted that Token Ring would supplant Ethernet by the end of that decade, and Novell created its own networking protocol, as did Apple, rather than take on what they saw to be the flaws of the overly complicated TCP/IP. And yet here we are today: Token Ring is a relic, IPX and AppleTalk are footnotes in the storied past of multiprotocol routers, and Ethernet and TCP/IP are the dominant networking technologies.

While no one in their right mind suggests completely replacing Ethernet and TCP/IP, anyone who's struggled to automate data center load management in today's virtualized data centers knows that current networking protocols present a challenge. For companies to make the most efficient use of their virtualized servers, they must move workloads around their data centers, but doing so implies moving network connectivity along with performance assurances, security and monitoring requirements. Today, that's either impossible to do automatically, or the method for doing it is highly proprietary. And virtualization isn't the only challenge--as businesses add more applications to their networks, they need to address the unique needs of those apps at a policy level.

Quite simply: Networking must change if it's going to keep up with what businesses want to accomplish.

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