2010: The Networking Year in Review

2010 was a busy year for networking professionals with market shifts debuting that will impact networking for years to come. New standards emerged for speed, power and security; vendors debuted new high end routers shattering previous performance levels; and new vendor rivalries emerged as the market consolidated.

Networking standards

After years of debate and discussion, 2010 was the year in which new high speed Ethernet standards were ratified. In June, the IEEE 802.3ba standard for 100 gigabit and 40 gigabit per second Ethernet (GbE) networking was approved.

Multiple vendors — including Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent and Brocade — announced 100 GbE enabled platforms for service providers as the speed of networking raced forward. On the 40 GbE side, multiple vendors including Blade Networks announced 40 GbE-capable switching platforms for data centers.

While the IEEE 802.3ba standard deals with the top end of Ethernet performance, another IEEE standard was ratified during 2010 to help enterprises with their energy conservation efforts. The IEEE 802.3az standard for Energy Efficient Ethernet was ratified in October. With Energy Efficient Ethernet a new low power state for idle periods and low utilization has been introduced to Ethernet networking. HP has already jumped into the ring for Energy Efficient Ethernet with a new lineup of switch modules which were announced earlier this month.

2010 was also the year in which Network Access Control (NAC ) was finally standardized. At the Interop Las Vegas conference in April, the first implementation of the IETF Network Endpoint Assessment (NEA) standard was demonstrated. With NEA, rival network access control standards from the Trusted Computing Group (TNC) and Cisco now have a standardized baseline.

DNSSEC uptake increases

2010 also marked a pivotal moment for the Internet networking, as the root zone of the Internet was signed for DNSSEC in July. With DNSSEC in root DNS, critically important DNS information now benefits from cryptographic integrity to ensure authenticity.

To date, over 50 Top Level Domains (TLDs) around the world have been secured by DNSSEC including .org and .net. The .com TLD is set to be signed for DNSSEC during the first quarter of 2011.

Big routers

2010 was also a banner year for networking vendors announcing new top-end routers. Cisco announced its CRS-3 in March. The CRS-3 is an evolution of Cisco previous top-end platform, the CRS-1 which debuted in 2004. According to Cisco, the CRS-3 platform can potentially scale to deliver 322 terabits per second of routing capacity.

Not to be outdone, Juniper Networks announced a new top-end core router of its own with the new T4000 in November. The T4000 is an evolution of the Juniper T1600 router which debuted in 2007. According to Juniper, the T4000 will deliver 4 Terabits per second in a half rack chassis, with up to 240 Gbps per slot of capacity and 2 billion packets per second of forwarding capacity.

Cisco vs. HP

The networking market landscape changed in 2010 as former partners Cisco and HP became bitter rivals. In February, Cisco terminated its certified channel partnership with HP. Cisco began encroaching into HP’s server space with the Cisco UCS server platform in 2009 and HP made its own encroachment into Cisco’s networking space in 2010 with the acquisition of 3Com.

HP acquired networking vendor 3Com for $2.7 billion. As part of the acquisition, HP integrated the 3Com assets with its ProCurve networking lineup to create the new HP Networking division.

HP wasn’t the only networking vendor making big acquisitions in 2010. Cisco completed its acquisition of video vendor Tandberg for $3.3 billion in April after months of delay. Juniper acquired virtualization play Altor for $95 million and Wi-Fi vendor Trapeze for $152 million.

IPv4 nearing the end, IPv6 adoption picks up

For better or for worse, 2010 is likely the last full year in which new IPv4 address space will be available from IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).

At the beginning of December, IANA allocated four slash 8 address blocks, each containing 16 million IPv4 addresses. Only seven slash 8 address blocks now remain as the final days of new IPv4 space allocations are drawing near.

IANA only needs to allocate two more of the slash 8 blocks, or 32 million IPv4 addresses, until it triggers a long standing policy for the final five blocks. IANA’s policy for the final five blocks of IPv4 addresses stipulates that each of the five Regional Internet Registries will get one of the final five blocks.

As IPv4 nears exhaustion, 2010 was a year in which multiple vendors including Juniper Networks and Blue Coat continued to preach the message of IPv6 migration with new solutions and migration strategies for 2010 and into 2011.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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