Networking in 2014: Year in Review
In 2014, slower Ethernet speeds came as a surprise, IoT moved forward, SDN and NFV evolved, and big-name networking vendors made lots of news.
At the beginning of 2014, Enterprise Networking Planet looked at what were likely to be the key trends for the new year. Looking back at the year that was, there were a few surprises along the way.
Perhaps the biggest surprise event of 2014 was the new movement toward slower networking speeds. That's not a typo - for the first time in the 40-year history of Ethernet, new Ethernet speed efforts were announced that were slower than what already exists in the market.
The move toward slower Ethernet began with the 25 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) Consortium in July. With 25 GbE, the goal is to provide an alternative to those that don't want or need 100 GbE and can't afford 40 GbE, but for whom 10 GbE isn't enough.
At the other end of the spectrum are the multiple efforts to develop a 2.5 GbE standard. In contrast to the 25 GbE effort, with 2.5 GbE, 1 GbE isn't fast enough, but 10 GbE is too difficult or expensive to implement. 10 GbE does not run over Cat5/5e cabling, which is common in many IT scenarios. The goal with 2.5 GbE is to be able to run faster Ethernet speeds over existing cabling. The need for a faster-than-1 GbE speed has been growing in 2014 due to the increasing deployment of 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi (which was a key trend Enterprise Networking Planet emphasized back in January).
Another key trend we identified at the beginning of the year was the continued growth and evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT).
It's a trend that has in fact grown in 2014, with one of the leading organizations pushing it forward being the Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance. AllSeen got started at the end of 2013. In 2014, the organization added new members and expanded its areas of focus.
In October, AllSeen launhced its Connected Lighting Working Group, tasked with building out a framework for network-enabled lighting.
It was clear at the beginning of 2014 that Software Defined Networking (SDN) would continue to be a major trend during the year.
While networking vendors big and small continue to embrace SDN, a few key efforts stood out in 2014. Among those standouts is the Linux Foundation's OpenDaylight, which had two major releases in 2014. In February the OpenDaylight Hydrogen release debuted, followed by Helium in September.
OpenDaylight isn't just an open-source hobbyist effort, either. While OpenDaylight enjoys the support of many of the world's leading networking vendors, it is also the basis of new commercial products as well, including one from Brocade.
Another key SDN trend that emerged in 2014 was the separation of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) as its own distinct technology with its own set of requirements and capabilities. Helping to lead the way for NFV is the OPNFV effort, which was launched on September 30.
Leading Networking Vendors
Cisco, the world's largest networking vendor, was very busy in 2014. Among Cisco's key 2014 efforts was the rollout of its SDN effort, known as Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). ACI, along with the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), first began to ship to customers on July 31.
Cisco rival Juniper Networks also had an eventful year. In May, Juniper settled its three-year long legal battle with Palo Alto Networks, with an out-of-court settlement valued at $175 million. In November, Juniper also made headlines after former CEO Shaygan Kheradpir was forced to abruptly resign and longtime employee Rami Rahim was named the new CEO.
In the largest networking-related financial deal of the year, Riverbed Technologies was taken private in a deal announced this month. Riverbed is being acquired by a consortium led by Thoma Bravo in a deal valued at $3.6 billion.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.