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Issue of October 2004 

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Track 6: enterprise networking

Connecting the next generation enterprise

Though complete cross-vendor interoperability is still a long way off, new technologies in the horizon promise whole new ways of networking the enterprise

During the past couple of years, enterprise networking has witnessed quite a few innovations.If Gigabit Ethernet was the fastest LAN architecture, the 802.11x standards have been trailblazers in the Wi-Fi arena. While Cat 6 set the standards in LAN cabling, iSCSI quietly started making its presence felt in SANs. These trends show the rapid advances in enterprise networking. While end-to-end cross-vendor interoperability is still a long way off, new technologies have significantlyimproved performance levels. Conference track six will look at certain emerging trends that will soon have a significant impact on enterprise networking.

IP to the fore

Convergence of data, voice and video (IP-based communications) is not a new concept. Technologists have been trying to push this technology for quite a while now, but adoption has been pretty slow due to perceived performance and cost issues. However, widespread adoption of IP-based communication services is happening rapidly now.

With technology bottlenecks a thing of the past, IP communications offer enterprises an attractive option to integrate communication and data paths. IP-based communications offer multiple benefits such as reduced communication costs, lesser network complexity, and increased productivity. Video traffic is becoming common across the world. Organisations have already found IP as an ideal means for combining voice and data traffic at cost effective rates. With technologies such as Gigabit Ethernet and MPLS providing superior capabilities it is just a matter of time before 'convergence' becomes a common concept in enterprises with data, voice and video travelling over IP.

Wi-Fi goes broadband

If the last four years were about Wi-Fi LANs, the future will witness a different revolution altogether. Yes, the age of wireless broadband is almost at hand. Technologies like WiMax are all set to rewrite the wireless networking market.

WiMAX provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. It can be used for a number of applications, including last mile broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, as well as high-speed enterprise connectivity. Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, WiMAX provides metropolitan area network connectivity at speeds of up to 75 Mbps and an average range between 3 to 5 kilometers. If the promise is fulfilled, WiMax is an enterprise technology to watch out for.

Self defence for networks

The latest security trend is that of integrated security in network devices. Systems with integrated security ensure the privacy of information transmitted and provide protection against internal and external threats.

These systems also give corporate administrators control over access to corporate resources. These self-defending networks will identify threats, react appropriately to the severity level, isolate infected servers and desktops, and reconfigure network resources in response to an attack.

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